The effects of inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, organic fertilizer (F) applications, and soil sterilization on maize growth were evaluated in a pot experiment. The experiment was in a completely randomized factorial design (2 x 4 x 2) with six replicates for each treatment. There were two soil treatments (sterilized soil, SS and unsterilized soil, US), four organic fertilizer treatments (0.0, 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 g kg1 soil), and two AM fungi treatments (inoculation with Glomus mosseae, +AM and uninoculated control, AM). Inoculated plants generally had greater AM colonization, plant height, dry weight and phosphorus (P) uptake than uninoculated controls, and these parameters were significantly increased as the organic fertilizer application increased up to 0.5 g kg1 but decreased or had no significant effect compared to the uninoculated plants at the highest fertilizer rate (2.0 g kg1). Plant growth, P uptake and AM colonization of root system were significantly higher in sterilized soil compared to the unsterilized control. Our results indicated that the inoculation of AM fungi in field soil with optimal organic fertilizer application greatly improved maize growth and nutrient uptake, and the effect was greater under sterilized soil condition.