A balanced forage program should include species that provide the highest yields of quality forage throughout the grazing period. In the Northeast, where cool-season grasses predominate, the short supply of forage during summer limits beef cow-calf herd size. Warmseason (C4) perennial grasses are productive in midsummer and may supplement temperate species for grazing and hay. ‘NY 1145’ big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi Vitman) and ‘Blackwell’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) were grown on soils (Aeric Fragiaquualt and Aquic Hapludalf) low in available P at two locations in Pennsylvania to characterize changes in quality of leaf and stem tissue associated with maturation. Forage was harvested at 10-day intervals beginning at the 3- to 4-leaf stage in late June and continuing until seed set in early August. Percentage leaf tissue declined similarly with maturation for the two grasses. Leaf dry matter yields were approximately twice those of stems in June but the opposite was true in August. At early head emergence, percentage leaf tissue for big bluestem and switchgrass averaged 34 and 44%, respectively. Averaged over grasses, leaf and stem forage quality estimates at early head emergence, respectively, were: crude protein (CP), 9.7, 4.3% in vitro dry matter disappearance (IVDMD), 60.4, 50.0%; neutral detergent fiber (NDF), 66.0, 75.3%; lignin, 4.7, 7.2%; and phosphorus (P), 0.20, 0.16%. Big bluestem leaves were higher in CP but lower in NDF than switchgrass leaves. Stem tissue of big bluestem was lower in NDF but higher in lignin than that of switchgrass. The decline in leaf and stem CP, IVDMD, and P with maturation was less pronounced in leaf tissue. The increase in NDF and lignin with maturity was greater in stems than in leaves. Fiber accumulation in stem tissue continued after seedheads emerged and was accompanied by decreases in CP and IVDMD. At early vegetative stages, the high percentage of good quality leaf tissue suggest the potential use of big bluestem and switchgrass for ruminants with above maintenance energy requirements. However, at later growth stages (late joint early head), the increase in stem tissue and associated decline in nutritive value suggest using these grasses either for grazing or hay by ruminants to meet only maintenance energy needs.