High ammonia (i.e. the total of NH 3 and NH4+) concentration or nitrogen deficiency in water can exert stress on growth and health of many aquatic plants. To investigate the physiological impacts of high ammonia-N (NH 4Cl) concentration and nitrogen deficiency on plant physiology, apical shoots of submerged macrophyte Egeria densa were first treated with five levels of nitrogen: 0, 1, 10, 30, 60mgL -1 ammonia-N (NH 4Cl) for 5d. After having explored the stress range of ammonia-N, its effect on E. densa was further examined at three levels of ammonium (0, 1, 30mgL -1 ammonia-N) and at six exposure times (0, 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7d). In testing the concentration-dependent stress, the increase of ammonia-N reduced the amounts of total chlorophyll (chl a and b), soluble proteins and soluble carbohydrates, but increased the activity levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and peroxidase in E. densa. In the N-free medium, total chlorophyll, soluble proteins, soluble carbohydrates and the activities of SOD and peroxidase in E. densa decreased significantly compared with the control (1mgL -1 ammonia-N). When comparing the ammonia-N impacts over time, the plants showed a declining trend in total chlorophyll, soluble proteins and soluble carbohydrates, but an rising trend in MDA, SOD, peroxidase and catalase in 30mgL -1 ammonia-N over 7d. Compared with the control, the N-free medium significantly decreased the amounts of total chlorophyll, soluble proteins, soluble carbohydrates, SOD and peroxidase in E. densa over time. Our study indicates that high ammonium (ammonia-N≥10mgL -1) affects the growth of E. densa through inducing oxidative stress and inhibiting photosynthesis, and nitrogen deficiency can also induce an abiotic stress condition for the E. densa growth by reducing photosynthetic pigments, soluble proteins, soluble carbohydrates, and the activity of antioxidant enzymes.