The type reached the French front in March 1916, and quickly began to replace the Nieuport 11 in French service. It was also ordered by the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, as it was superior to any British fighter at that time. Worthy of note is the fact that during part of 1916, the Nieuport 17 equipped every fighter squadron of the Aéronautique Militaire. The Germans supplied captured examples to several of their aircraft manufacturers for them to copy. This resulted in the Siemens-Schuckert D.I which, apart from the engine installation, was a close copy and actually went into production, although in the event it was not used operationally on the Western Front.
By early 1917, the Nieuport was outclassed in most respects by the latest German fighters. Newer models (the Nieuport 24 and the 27) were brought out in an attempt to retain the type's ascendency. However, the SPAD S.VII had already replaced the Nieuport fighters in many French squadrons by mid-1917. The British persisted with Nieuports a little longer, not replacing their last Nieuport 24bis until early 1918.
Many Allied air aces flew Nieuport fighters, including Canadian ace W.A. Bishop, who received a Victoria Cross while flying it, and most famously of all, Albert Ball, V.C.Like the other Nieuport types, the 17 was used as an advanced trainer for prospective fighter pilots after its operational days were over. This aircraft was flown by Adjudant Rene Dorme autumn 1918.