The main focus of recent studies relating vegetation leaf chemistry with remotely sensed data is the prediction of chlorophyll and nitrogen content using indices based on a combination of bands from the red and infrared wavelengths. The use of high spectral resolution data offers the opportunity to select the optimal wavebands for predicting plant chemical properties. In order to test the optimal band combinations for predicting nitrogen content, normalized ratio indices were calculated for all wavebands between 350 and 2200 nm for five different species. The correlation between these indices and the nitrogen content of the samples was calculated and compared between species. The results show a strong correlation between individual normalized ratio indices and the nitrogen content for different species. The spectral regions that are most effective for predicting nitrogen content are, for each individual species, different from the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) spectral region. By combining the areas of maximum correlation it was possible to determine the optimal spectral regions for predicting leaf nitrogen content across species. In a cross-species situation, normalized ratio indices using the combination of reflectance at 1770 nm and at 693 nm may give the best relation to nitrogen content for individual species.