Time integrated normalized difference vegetation index (??NDVI) derived from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) multi-temporal imagery over a 10-year period (1989-1998) was used as a surrogate for primary production to investigate the impact of interannual climate variability on grassland performance for central and northern US Great Plains. First, the contribution of C3 and C4 species abundance to the major grassland ecosystems of the US Great Plains is described. Next, the relation between mean ??NDVI and the ??NDVI coefficient of variation (CV ??NDVI) used as a proxy for interranual climate variability is analysed. Results suggest that the differences in the long-term climate control over ecosystem performance approximately coincide with changes between C3- and C4-dominant grassland classes. Variation in remotely sensed net primary production over time is higher for the southern and western plains grasslands (primary C4 grasslands), whereas the C3-dominated classes in the northern and eastern portion of the US Great Plains, generally show lower CV ??NDVI values.