nitrogen (n) at 100, 200, 300, and 400 kg ha-1 was applied to tanzania grass swards to evaluate the animal response and relationships between sward characteristics and the performance of young nellore bulls (bos indicus) under continuous stocking. a completely randomized experimental design was used with two replications between 11 november 2001 and 15 april 2002 when the sward heights were maintained at 60 cm by using different stocking rates. the average daily gain (adg) (0.73 kg d-1) was not affected by n doses while the number of animal days ha-1 increased linearly from 515 to 1267. on the other hand, the linear increase in the animal yield was 399, 653, 755, and 895 kg ha-1 for n at 100, 200, 300, and 400 kg ha-1, respectively, while the ratio between the liveweight gain (kg) and n (kg ha-1) decreased. correlation coefficients between adg and herbage mass, green leaf mass, green herbage mass, proportion of green leaf and leaf:culm ratio were low and nonsignificant. under the conditions in northwestern paraná, the application of n to swards of tanzania grass is a management option for increasing beef cattle production.