Nitrogen pollution in groundwater resulting from wastewater application to land is a common problem, and it causes a major threat to groundwater-based drinking water supplies. In this study, a numerical model is developed to study the nitrogen species transport and transformation in unsaturated porous media. Further, a new mass transfer module for dissolved oxygen (DO) is incorporated in the one-dimensional numerical model for nitrogen species transport to describe the fate and transport of nitrogen species, dissolved oxygen, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and biomass. The spatial and temporal variation of dissolved oxygen is incorporated in the model through the mass transfer from gaseous phase to water phase in an unsaturated porous system. The numerical results of the water flow model and single species and multispecies transport model in an unsaturated zone developed for this purpose have been validated with the available analytical/numerical solution. The developed model is applied in clay loam, silt, and sand soils to analyze the transport behavior of nitrogen species under unsaturated condition. The numerical results suggest that the high rate of oxygen mass transfer from the air phase to the water phase positively increases the dissolved oxygen in the applied wastewater and enhances the nitrification process. Because of this high oxygen mass transfer, the nitrate nitrogen concentration significantly increases in the unsaturated zone and the same is transported to a larger depth at higher simulation period. On the other hand, the low rate of oxygen mass transfer implicitly enhances the denitrification process and finally reduces the nitrate nitrogen concentration in the unsaturated zone. The numerical results also show that the nitrate nitrogen transport is rapid in sandy soil when compared with clay loam and silty soils under high oxygen mass transfer rate. In essence, the high oxygen mass transfer rate significantly increases the nitrate nitrogen in the unsaturated zone, especially at a greater depth at larger time levels and eventually affects the groundwater quality. © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.