Pigments, proteins and enzyme activity related to chlorophyll catabolism were analysed in senescing leaves of wild-type (WT) Lolium temulentum and compared with those of an introgression line carrying a mutant gene from stay-green (SG) Festuca pratensis. During senescence of WT leaves chlorophylls a and b were continuously catabolised to colourless products and no other derivatives were observed, whereas in SG leaves there was an accumulation of dephytylated and oxidised catabolites including chlorophyllide a, phaeophorbide a and 132 OH-chlorophyllide a. Dephytylated products were absent from SG leaf tissue senescing under a light-dark cycle. Retention of pigments in SG was accompanied by significant stabilisation of light harvesting chlorophyll-proteins compared with WT, but soluble proteins such as Rubisco were degraded during senescence at a similar rate in the two genotypes. The activity of phaeophorbide a oxygenase measured in SG tissue at 3d was less than 12% of that in WT tissue at the same time-point during senescence and of the same order as that in young pre-senescent WT leaves, indicating that the metabolic lesion in SG concerns a deficiency at the ring-opening step of the catabolic pathway. In senescent L. temulentum tissue two terminal chlorophyll catabolites were identified with chromatographic characteristics that suggest they may represent hitherto undescribed catabolite structures. These data are discussed in relation to current understanding of the genetic and metabolic control of chlorophyll catabolism in leaf senescence.