This study aimed to examine the metabolic changes in Chlorella minutissima cells grown under nitrogen-deficient conditions and with the addition of xylose. The cell density, maximum photochemical efficiency, and chlorophyll and lipid levels were measured. The expression of two photosynthetic proteins, ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) and the beta subunit (AtpB) of adenosine triphosphate synthase, were measured. Comparison of cells grown in medium with a 50% reduction in the nitrogen concentration versus the traditional medium solution revealed that the cells grown under nitrogen-deficient conditions exhibited an increased growth rate, higher maximum cell density (12.7 × 106 cells mL-1), optimal PSII efficiency (0.69) and decreased lipid level (25.08%). This study has taken the first steps toward protein detection in Chlorella minutissima, and the results can be used to optimize the culturing of other microalgae.