Net primary productivity (NPP) is a fundamental ecological variable that provides information about the health and status of vegetation communities. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, or NDVI, derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) is increasingly being used to model or predict NPP, especially over large remote areas. In this article, seven seasonally based metrics calculated from a seven-year baseline NDVI dataset were used to model NPP over Alaska, USA. For each growing season, they included maximum, mean and summed NDVI, total days, product of total days and maximum NDVI, an integral estimate of NDVI and a summed product of NDVI and solar radiation. Field (plot) derived NPP estimates were assigned to 18 land cover classes from an Alaskan statewide land cover database. Linear relationships between NPP and each NDVI metric were analysed at four scales: plot, 1-km, 10-km and 20-km pixels. Results show moderate to poor relationship between any of the metrics and NPP estimates for all data sets and scales. Use of NDVI for estimating NPP may be possible, but caution is required due to data seasonality, the scaling process used and land surface heterogeneity.