Leaf development was studied in eight related grasses, grown in field swards cut at 5-week intervals, during the year of sowing and the subsequent year (1989 and 1990). The rate of leaf expansion was in the order Westerwolds ryegrass > Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum), Italian ryegrass × meadow fescue > hybrid ryegrass > perennial ryegrass × meadow fescue, meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). The order of grasses was similar, but not identical, for rate of leaf appearance, rate of leaf extension, weight of leaf blade emerging per shoot per week and rate of increase in length of exposed leaf sheath, and the order was approximately the reverse for weight per unit area of emerging leaf blade. The area per leaf blade increased greatly between May and October of the year of sowing, particularly in Westerwolds, Italian and hybrid ryegrasses and Italian ryegrass × meadow fescue. Area per leaf blade in tall fescue increased greatly between May and July of the year of sowing and May–July of the subsequent year. Rate of leaf expansion in meadow fescue was much higher in May of the year after sowing than in the previous May.