The organs of multicellular species are comprised of cell types that must function together to perform specific tasks. One critical organ function is responding to internal or external change but little is known about how responses are tailored to specific cell types or coordinated among them on a global level. Here we use cellular profiling of five Arabidopsis root cell types in response to a limiting resource, nitrogen, to uncover a vast and predominantly cell-specific response that was largely undetectable using traditional methods. These methods reveal a new class of cell-specific nitrogen responses. As a proof-of-principle, we dissected one cell-specific response circuit that mediates nitrogen-induced changes in root branching from pericycle cells. Thus, cellular response profiling links gene modules to discrete functions in specific cell types.