First, second and third year needles were collected from the same branches of young Scots pine trees growing on soils of two different status (high and low fertility sites) that varied in mineral nutrient concentrations and N mineralisation potential. All needle age classes were analysed for total carbon, acid detergent fibre (ADF), lignin, cellulose, phenylpropanoid derivatives (PPD) of lignin, sugar constituents of non-crystalline, hydrated cellulose and hemicellulose, and nutrient concentrations (N, P, K, Ca, Mg and Mn). Significant intra-specific variation in the litter quality variables in relation to soils of high and low fertility was found in the second and third year needles, whereas there were no differences in the other cell wall constituents and mineral elements of the first year needles. The second and third year needles from the low fertility soil contained higher concentrations of ADF, lignin, cellulose, sugar constituents of non-crystalline, hydrated cellulose and hemicellulose, and phenylpropanoid derivatives (PPD) of lignin, but lower concentrations of N, P and Mg than the same needles from the high fertility and fertilised soils. The results in the present study indicate that under different soil fertilities, needle age classes show significant variations in the cell wall constituents and mineral elements, and suggest that this can result in significant variation in litter quality and decomposition rates.