We evaluated the effects of livestock grazing on C content of the plant-soil system (to 60 cm) of two semi-arid grasslands: a mixed-grass prairie (grazed 12 years), and a short-grass steppe (grazed 56 years). Grazing treatments included season-long grazing at heavy and light stocking rates, and non-grazed exclosures. Significantly higher soil C (0-30cm) was measured in grazed pastures compared to non-grazed exclosurcs, alttiougli for the short-grass steppe higher soil C was observed with the heavy grazing treatment only. Excluding grazing caused an immobilization of C in excessive aboveground plant litter, and an increase in annual forbs and grasses which lack dense fibrous rooting systems conducive to soil organic matter formation and accumulation. Our data indicate that higher soil C with grazing was in part the result of more rapid annual shoot turnover, and redistribution of C within the plant-soil system as a result of changes in plant species composition.