Stay-green mutants are delayed in leaf senescence and have been identified from different plant species, including many crops. Functional stay-greens have the potential to increase plant productivity. In cosmetic stay-greens, however, retention of chlorophyll during senescence is uncoupled from a decline of photosynthetic capacity in these mutants. For many cosmetic stay-green mutants, including Gregor Mendel's famous green cotyledon pea variety, molecular defects were recently identified in orthologous stay-green genes. Stay-green genes encode members of a new family of chloroplast-located proteins, which are likely to function in dismantling of photosynthetic chlorophyll-apoprotein complexes. Their activity is considered as a prerequisite for both chlorophyll and apoprotein degradation during senescence.