Plant cell walls consist largely of cellulose, non-cellulosic polysaccharides and lignin. Concerted attempts are underway to convert wall polysaccharides from crop plant residues into renewable transport fuels and other valuable products, and to exploit the dietary benefits of cereal grain wall polysaccharides in human health. Attempts to improve plant performance for these applications have involved the manipulation of the levels and structures of wall components. Some successes in altering non-cellulosic polysaccharides has been achieved, but it would appear that drastic changes in cellulose are more difficult to engineer. Nevertheless, future prospects for both genetically modified (GM) and non-GM technologies to modify plant cell wall composition and structure remain bright, and will undoubtedly find applications beyond the current focus on human health and biofuel production.