The success of many prairie restorations is not well documented. A restoration begun in 1975 at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois allows assessment of restoration efforts as well as changes through time. Data are presented on species richness and composition for 13 restorations planted in successive years between 1975 and 1990 and two remnant prairies. Presence of species was recorded using a stratified random design. Species richness at several scales and non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination were used to assess trends in the vegetation. Species richness declined through time at all scales examined and was always less in the restored prairies than that found in the remnant prairies. Species composition changed with time but not in the direction of the composition found in the remnants. Our understanding of the maintenance of species richness is not sufficient to allow the re-creation of patterns of species found in remnant grassland communities.