Characteristics used to categorize plant species into functional groups for their effects on ecosystem functioning may also be relevant to higher trophic levels. In addition, plant and consumer diversity should be positively related because more diverse plant communities offer a greater variety of resources for the consumers. Thus, the functional group composition and richness of a plant community may affect the composition and diversity of the herbivores and even higher trophic levels associated with that community. We tested this hypothesis by sampling arthropods with a vacuum sampler (34 531 individuals of 494 species) from an experiment in which we manipulated plant functional group richness and composition. Plant manipulations included all combinations of three functional groups (forbs, C3 graminoids, and C4 graminoids) removed zero, one, or two at a time from grassland plots at Cedar Creek Natural History Area, MN. Although total arthropod species richness was unrelated to plant functional group richness or composition, the species richness of some arthropod orders was affected by plant functional group composition. Two plant characteristics explained most of the effects of plant functional groups on arthropod species richness. Nutritional quality, a characteristic related to ecosystem functioning, and taxonomic diversity, a characteristic not used to designate plant functional groups, seemed to affect arthropod species richness both directly and indirectly. Thus, plant functional groups designated for their effects on ecosystem processes will only be partially relevant to consumer diversity and abundance.