Litter soil cover constitutes an important micro-ecosystem in sustainable viticulture having a key role in nutrient cycling and serving as a habitat of complex microbial communities. Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA) are known to regulate nitrification in soil while little is known regarding their function and diversity in litter. We investigated the effects of two fungicides, penconazole and cyprodinil, commonly used in vineyards, on the function and diversity of total and active AOB and AOA in a microcosm study. Functional changes measured via potential nitrification and structural changes assessed via denaturating gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) at the DNA and RNA levels were contrasted with pesticide dissipation in the litter layer. The latter was inversely correlated with potential nitrification, which was temporarily inhibited at the initial sampling dates (0 to 21 days) when nearly 100 % of the applied pesticide amounts was still present in the litter. Fungicides induced changes in AOB and AOA communities with RNA-DGGE analysis showing a higher sensitivity. AOA were more responsive to pesticide application compared to AOB. Potential nitrification was less sensitive to the fungicides and was restored faster than structural changes, which persisted. These results support the theory of microbial redundancy for nitrification in a stressed litter environment.