Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from grazed grasslands are estimated to be approximately 28% of global anthropogenic N2O emissions. Estimating the N2O flux from grassland soils is difficult because of its episodic nature. This study aimed to quantify the N2O emissions, the annual N2O flux and the emission factor (EF), and also to investigate the influence of environmental and soil variables controlling N2O emissions from grazed grassland. Nitrous oxide emissions were measured using static chambers at eight different grasslands in the South of Ireland from September 2007 to August 2009. The instantaneous N2O flux values ranged from -186 to 885.6 mu g N2O-N m(-2) h(-1) and the annual sum ranged from 2 +/- A 3.51 to 12.55 +/- A 2.83 kg N2O-N ha(-1) y(-1) for managed sites. The emission factor ranged from 1.3 to 3.4%. The overall EF of 1.81% is about 69% higher than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) default EF value of 1.25% which is currently used by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to estimate N2O emission in Ireland. At an N applied of approximately 300 kg ha(-1) y(-1), the N2O emissions are approximately 5.0 kg N2O-N ha(-1) y(-1), whereas the N2O emissions double to approximately 10 kg N ha(-1) for an N applied of 400 kg N ha(-1) y(-1). The sites with higher fluxes were associated with intensive N-input and frequent cattle grazing. The N2O flux at 17A degrees C was five times greater than that at 5A degrees C. Similarly, the N2O emissions increased with increasing water filled pore space (WFPS) with maximum N2O emissions occurring at 60-80% WFPS. We conclude that N application below 300 kg ha(-1) y(-1) and restricted grazing on seasonally wet soils will reduce N2O emissions.