Crop modelling has evolved over the last 30 or so years in concert with advances in crop physiology, crop ecology and computing technology. Having reached a respectable degree of acceptance, it is appropriate to review briefly the course of developments in crop modelling and to project what might be major contributions of crop modelling in the future. Two major opportunities are envisioned for increased modelling activity in the future. One opportunity is in a continuing central, heuristic role to support scientific investigation, to facilitate decision making by crop managers, and to aid in education. Heuristic activities will also extend to the broader system-level issues of environmental and ecological aspects of crop production. The second opportunity is projected as a prime contributor in understanding and advancing the genetic regulation of plant performance and plant improvement. Physiological dissection and modelling of traits provides an avenue by which crop modelling could contribute to enhancing integration of molecular genetic technologies in crop improvement.