The impact of climate change on N leaching from hill land plant/soil systems was investigated using a transplant technique involving the movement of intact lysimeter cores of three contrasting soil types down an altitudinal gradient at Great Dun Fell, Cumbria. Air and soil temperatures and precipitation were monitored at four elevations down an altitudinal transect using automatic weather stations for a period of two years. The altitudinal sequence of air temperature followed the anticipated pattern, providing mean annual temperatures at the four locations of 3.4, 5.0, 6.3 and 8.1 degrees C. Lapse rates of both mean air and soil temperatures over the altitudinal range 171-845 m were 6.6 (1993) and 7.0 degrees C km(-1) (1994). Soil monthly temperature gradients for a particular soil type for each of the two years showed a seasonal range of 6.0 and 7.4 degrees C km(-1), respectively, and for air temperature of 4.3 and 3.1 degrees C km(-1). Precipitation gradients showed the expected general increase with altitude, but were less predictable. Inorganic nitrogen leaching was studied in lysimeter leachates with climatic amelioration resulting in dramatic reductions in leachate nitrate concentrations and associated total concentrations of inorganic nitrogen. Decreases in leachate nitrate concentrations were observed for all three soil types studied. Soils receiving supplemented rainfall also showed decreased N concentrations, suggesting that temperature was the main controlling factor responsible for the observed reductions. Increased N uptake by the vegetation, in response to the increases in temperature, is considered to be critical in controlling soil solution chemistry at these sites.