The abundance and composition of soil ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) were investigated by using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, cloning and sequencing approaches based on amoA genes. The soil, classified as agri-udic ferrosols with pH (H(2)O) ranging from 3.7 to 6.0, was sampled in summer and winter from long-term field experimental plots which had received 16 years continuous fertilization treatments, including fallow (CK0), control without fertilizers (CK) and those with combinations of fertilizer nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K): N, NP, NK, PK, NPK and NPK plus organic manure (OM). Population sizes of AOB and AOA changed greatly in response to the different fertilization treatments. The NPK + OM treatment had the highest copy numbers of AOB and AOA amoA genes among the treatments that received mineral fertilizers, whereas the lowest copy numbers were recorded in the N treatment. Ammonia-oxidizing archaea were more abundant than AOB in all the corresponding treatments, with AOA to AOB ratios ranging from 1.02 to 12.36. Significant positive correlations were observed among the population sizes of AOB and AOA, soil pH and potential nitrification rates, indicating that both AOB and AOA played an important role in ammonia oxidation in the soil. Phylogenetic analyses of the amoA gene fragments showed that all AOB sequences from different treatments were affiliated with Nitrosospira or Nitrosospira-like species and grouped into cluster 3, and little difference in AOB community composition was recorded among different treatments. All AOA sequences fell within cluster S (soil origin) and cluster M (marine and sediment origin). Cluster M dominated exclusively in the N, NP, NK and PK treatments, indicating a pronounced difference in the community composition of AOA in response to the long-term fertilization treatments. These findings could be fundamental to improve our understanding of the importance of both AOB and AOA in the cycling of nitrogen and other nutrients in terrestrial ecosystems.