Split applications of nitrogen fertilizers according to maize requirements increase N use efficiency. However, few studies have been carried out in Mexico using N fertilizer labeled with 15N to evaluate the recovery of N applied. The objective of this study was to determine the N recovery efficiency in maize using 15N, when split N fertilizers are applied at four growth stages. The experiment was carried out between 1999 and 2000 at Gomez Palacio, Durango, Mexico. Four treatments were evaluated using N rates of 300 kg·ha-1. Split application of 75 kg·ha-1, at planting,tassel initiation (V6), beginning of fast-growing ear (V12) and silking (R1) growth stages was applied. A growth stage was labeled with 15N per treatment. A randomized complete block design with three replications was used. Drymatter yield, N recovered by crop and soil were determined. Nitrogen recovery efficiency reached values of 42.7, 83.2, 35.1 and 10.0 % when labeled fertilizer was applied at planting, V6, V12, and R1 growth stages, respectively. These datasuggest that the best way to apply N fertilizer is using three split applications, from planting up to V12 stage, with a greater proportion at V6 growth stage. Maize removed 243.2 kg N·ha-1, with 114.8 kg supplied by the soil N. From the appliedN fertilizer (300 kg·ha-1), crop recovered 42.8 %, 15.6 % was recovered from soil 0-60 cm depth, and 41.7 % of the applied N was unaccounted.