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Summary form only given. The main aim of this paper is experimental and theoretical explanation of diffusion and structure processes occurring in plasma nitrided layers during their subsequent isothermal annealing, included into the work cycle immediately after finishing proper plasma nitridation. The substance of experimental part is first of all quantitative determination of redistribution of interstitial elements-nitrogen and carbon in the layer-and structure and phase analysis of changes of isothermally annealed plasma nitrided layers. The results of these analyses is completed with parallelly performed hardness measurement. On the basis of thus measured redistribution of interstitial and substitutional elements in the layer, then diffusion and phase characteristics of both groups of elements is determined, confronted with the data according to literature and thermodynamic and diffusion model of elements redistribution in plasma nitrided layer of finite thickness is elaborated.