Identifying the patterns of soil microbial responses to increasing nitrogen (N) availability are important since microbial processes are related to the potential nutrient transformations. The effects of the addition of N to the soil microbial community of the Gurbantunggut Desert, China, are described in this paper. The study was conducted over a two-year period with trials commencing at the beginning of each growing season. Soil enzyme activity, microbial biomass and microbial community level physiological profile (CLPP) were determined at 0-5cm and 5-10cm soil depths. Nitrogen was added to the soil at five rates plus a control, i.e. 0, 0.5, 1, 3, 6 and 24gNm -2y -1. We hypothesized that soil enzyme activities and microbial biomass N (MBN) would firstly increase and then decrease, and CLPP would be altered with increasing N addition, due to the deleterious effects of higher N addition upon microbial activity. Because of the relatively higher organic matter in the upper depth of soil layers, we further hypothesized that the responses of microbial activities in the 0-5cm depth would be more marked than at 5-10cm. In partial support of our hypothesis, soil enzyme activities, microbial biomass and nutrient concentrations responded to N addition with the most significant changes occurring in the 0-5cm soil depth. Addition of N resulted in an increase in MBN and a decrease in urease activity. Invertase and alkaline phosphatase (AlP) activities increased at low doses of N addition and showed a decrease at higher doses. There was no evidence of change in oxidative enzyme activity at low N treatments but activity decreased at high N additions. However, the CLPP was not affected by N addition. The results of this study suggest that N supplementation in this desert soil may affect C transformation, increase availability of N and P, and immobilize N in the microbial biomass. Responses of the enzyme activity to N supplementation occurred within the context of an apparently stable or unresponsive microbial community structure.