Setaria italica and its wild ancestor Setaria viridis are diploid C(4) grasses with small genomes of ∼515 Mb. Both species have attributes that make them attractive as model systems. Setaria italica is a grain crop widely grown in Northern China and India that is closely related to the major food and feed crops maize and sorghum. A large collection of S. italica accessions are available and thus opportunities exist for association mapping and allele mining for novel variants that will have direct application in agriculture. Setaria viridis is the weedy relative of S. italica with many attributes suitable for genetic analyses including a small stature, rapid life cycle, and prolific seed production. Setaria sp. are morphologically similar to most of the Panicoideae grasses, including major biofuel feedstocks, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus). They are broadly distributed geographically and occupy diverse ecological niches. The cross-compatibility of S. italica and S. viridis also suggests that gene flow is likely between wild and domesticated accessions. In addition to serving as excellent models for C(4) photosynthesis, these grasses provide novel opportunities to study abiotic stress tolerance and as models for bioenergy feedstocks.