Plant metabolism is the foundation of our global food. Plants are the primary source of calories and essential nutrients for billions of individuals globally and provide a dizzying array of non-essential compounds that also have profound impacts on human physiology. Plant metabolism is unparalleled in its chemical complexity and has been a rich source of medicinal compounds for millennia, many of which are still used directly, or as derivatives, to treatment of a wide range of diseases and degenerative conditions in humans. In the past decade plants have also been proposed carbon sources for renewable liquid fuels and industrial feedstocks. As society continues to ask more and more of plants it becomes increasingly clear a better fundamental understanding of plant metabolism is required to enable rational and predictable metabolic engineering to meet the myriad of proposed plant uses. The 2013 Plant Metabolic Engineering GRC will highlight new advancements in (i) genome and transcriptome sequencing to access previously recalcitrant, taxonomically restricted areas of specialized plant metabolism, (ii) approaches integrating metabolomics, quantitative genetics and deep sequencing/genotyping of natural and structured populations to understand the basis of natural variation in plant metabolism, and (iii) topical areas of plant metabolism being targeted to positively impact the human condition. Some short talks will also be selected from poster abstracts submitted as part of the registration process. Junior scientists, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students will present their work in poster sessions and interact with global leaders in the field of plant metabolic engineering. The collegial atmosphere of this conference, extended discussion sessions and informal gatherings in the afternoons and evenings, provides a unique forum for interactions across disciplines.