Nitrogen (N) deposition has increased substantially since the second half of the 20th century due to human activities. This increase of reactive N into the biosphere has major implications for ecosystem functioning, including primary production, soil and water chemistry and producer community structure and diversity. Increased N deposition is also linked to the decline of insects observed over recent decades. However, we currently lack a mechanistic understanding of the effects of high N deposition on individual fitness, species richness and community structure of both invertebrate and vertebrate consumers. Here, we review the effects of N deposition on producer–consumer interactions, focusing on five existing ecological frameworks: C:N:P ecological stoichiometry, trace element ecological stoichiometry, nutritional geometry, essential micronutrients and allelochemicals. We link reported N deposition-mediated changes in producer quality to life-history strategies and traits of consumers, to gain a mechanistic understanding of the direction of response in consumers. We conclude that high N deposition influences producer quality via eutrophication and acidification pathways. This makes oligotrophic poorly buffered ecosystems most vulnerable to significant changes in producer quality. Changes in producer quality between the reviewed frameworks are often interlinked, complicating predictions of the effects of high N deposition on producer quality. The degree and direction of fitness responses of consumers to changes in producer quality varies among species but can be explained by differences in life-history traits and strategies, particularly those affecting species nutrient intake regulation, mobility, relative growth rate, host-plant specialisation, ontogeny and physiology. To increase our understanding of the effects of N deposition on these complex mechanisms, the inclusion of life-history traits of consumer species in future study designs is pivotal. Based on the reviewed literature, we formulate five hypotheses on the mechanisms underlying the effects of high N deposition on consumers, by linking effects of nutritional ecological frameworks to life-history strategies. Importantly, we expect that N-deposition-mediated changes in producer quality will result in a net decrease in consumer community as well as functional diversity. Moreover, we anticipate an increased risk of outbreak events of a small subset of generalist species, with concomitant declines in a multitude of specialist species. Overall, linking ecological frameworks with consumer life-history strategies provides a mechanistic understanding of the impacts of high N deposition on producer–consumer interactions, which can inform management towards more effective mitigation strategies.