Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and their stoichiometry play pivotal roles in plant structure and functions, development and ecological strategies in terrestrial ecosystems due to their coupling with each other and their irreplaceability. Plant N and P can be influenced by biotic and abiotic factors, such as individual traits, climate change and human disturbance, and it is those factors that determine the plant community composition and structure that finally affect the ecosystem processes. According to previous studies, there is an allometric relationship between N and P. Relationships between plant N and P depend on the soil nutrient condition and species plasticity in N and P. Understanding the relationships between plant N and P in major ecological gradients can further our knowledge about vegetation restoration, succession, biodiversity, ecosystem trophic structure and biogeochemical cycles. This information could help predict potential changes in terrestrial ecosystems in response to future climate change. We review recent advances in the influencing factors and mechanism of stoichiometry in order to improve understanding of plant responses to global change.