Production and nutritive value of forage in silvopastural systems can be improved by introducing shade- tolerant grass and legume species in appropriate mixtures. The management of these systems can present a challenge regarding the selection of the proper grass and legume species as well as the maintenance of the optimum balance between the two species in the grass–legume stand. The objectives of the present study were to evaluate the performance of pure stands and mixtures (75:25, 50:50, 25:75) of Dactylis glomerata:Trifolium subterraneum under full sun, 60% shade and 90% shade. Dry matter production of D. glomerata was not affected by shading, while that of T. subterraneum was drastically reduced. Shading increased the crude protein (CP) and acid detergent lignin content, but did not affect the acid detergent fibre and neutral detergent fibre content. The dry matter production of the 75:25 and 25:75 mixtures was higher compared to the one of the 50:50 mixture, while the CP content of the 75:25 mixture was the highest under moderate shading. However, relative yield, aggressivity index and competitive balance index indicated higher competitive ability for D. glomerata compared with T. subterraneum especially under shade. Therefore, the 25:75 mixture is suggested as the most suitable under moderate shade (60%), to perpetuate the stand and avoid the frequent re-sowing of T. subterraneum.