The effects of steam sterilization (SS), methyl bromide (MeBr) fumigation and chloropicrin (CP) fumigation on soil N dynamics and microbial properties were evaluated in a pot experiment. All disinfection treatments increased the -N level and inhibited nitrification. The additional -N in the CP treatment probably originated from the decomposition of microbial debris by surviving microbes, while that in the SS treatment was attributable to deamination processes of soil organic N occurring in a less labile fraction in addition to the decomposition of microbial debris. The MeBr fumigation increased the level of -N without changing the soil microbial biomass. Based on the determinations of soil microbial biomass, substrate utilization activity (Biolog method) and microbial community structure (phospholipid fatty acid method), the effects of the MeBr, CP and SS treatments on the microbial community were compared. The MeBr fumigation had relatively mild and short-term effects on microbial biomass and activity, but altered the community structure drastically by promoting the growth of gram-positive bacteria. The CP fumigation had large and long-term impacts on microbial biomass and activity; the community structure remained unaffected except for the gram-negative bacteria. Steam sterilization had severe and persistent effects on all parameters. The severity of the effects decreased in the order SS ≥ CP > MeBr. © 2008 Japanese Society of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition.