Cinnamoyl CoA-reductase (CCR) and caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (COMT) catalyze key steps in the biosynthesis of monolignols, which serve as building blocks in the formation of plant lignin. We identified candidate genes encoding these two enzymes in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and show that the spatio-temporal expression patterns of these genes in planta correlate well with the developmental profile of lignin deposition. Downregulation of CCR1 and caffeic acid O-methyltransferase 1 (OMT1) using an RNA interference-mediated silencing strategy caused dramatic changes in lignin level and composition in transgenic perennial ryegrass plants grown under both glasshouse and field conditions. In CCR1-deficient perennial ryegrass plants, metabolic profiling indicates the redirection of intermediates both within and beyond the core phenylpropanoid pathway. The combined results strongly support a key role for the OMT1 gene product in the biosynthesis of both syringyl- and guaiacyl-lignin subunits in perennial ryegrass. Both field-grown OMT1-deficient and CCR1-deficient perennial ryegrass plants showed enhanced digestibility without obvious detrimental effects on either plant fitness or biomass production. This highlights the potential of metabolic engineering not only to enhance the forage quality of grasses but also to produce optimal feedstock plants for biofuel production.