mixtures and Ar–NO mixtures with quantitative mass spectrometry. In the former, mainly N2 and O2, but also a significant amount of nitric oxide (NO) was formed, i.e. up to 5% of the background gas was NO. In the inverse experiment, in which NO was admixed to an argon plasma, up to 92% of the NO was converted into N2 and O2. The observed molecules are mostly generated in wall association processes but also by gas phase reactions between N atoms and O2 molecules leading to NO. The two types of plasmas show a strong mutual resemblance in the steady-state gas composition if substantial dissociation can be reached in the residence time of the gases in the plasma, i.e. 5% NO and 95% N2 and O2, although the starting conditions are completely different. It seems that in first order the system prefers to produce the most thermodynamically stable molecules.