We present a new technique to label organic matter (OM) at its place of formation by the application of 13C, 18O and 2H through the gaseous phase. The label diffused into leaves was incorporated into assimilates and was detected in plant tissues. This technique can be applied in soil sciences, e.g. to trace the decomposition pathways of soil OM inputs, or in plant physiology and palaeoclimatic reconstruction, e.g. to further investigate the origin of the 18O and 2H signal in tree ring cellulose.