The objective of this study was to examine the impact of starter nitrogen fertilizer on soybean root activity, leaf photosynthesis, grain yield and their relationship. To achieve this objective, field experiments were conducted in 2013 and 2014, using a randomized complete block design, with three replications. Nitrogen was applied at planting at rates of 0, 25, 50, and 75 kg N ha.sup.-1 . In both years, starter nitrogen fertilizer benefited root activity, leaf photosynthesis, and consequently its yield. Statistically significant correlation was found among root activity, leaf photosynthetic rate, and grain yield at the developmental stage. The application of N.sub.25, N.sub.50, and N.sub.75 increased grain yield by 1.28%, 2.47%, and 1.58% in 2013 and by 0.62%, 2.77%, and 2.06% in 2014 compared to the N.sub.0 treatment. Maximum grain yield of 3238.91 kg ha.sup.-1 in 2013 and 3086.87 kg ha.sup.-1 in 2014 were recorded for N.sub.50 treatment. Grain yield was greater for 2013 than 2014, possibly due to more favorable environmental conditions. This research indicated that applying nitrogen as starter is necessary to increase soybean yield in Sangjiang River Plain in China.