CONTEXT : Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from livestock production systems is a global research priority. Forages that contain condensed tannins, such as the perennial legume Lespedeza cuneata, may help to reduce ruminant methane (CH4) emissions. AIMS : The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of feeding different levels of L. cuneata hay on feed intake and enteric CH4 emissions of sheep fed a basal diet of subtropical Eragrostis curvula hay. METHODS : Four adult ruminally cannulated Dohne Merino wethers with initial bodyweight of 65.5 ± 3.5 kg were used in the experiment in a 4 × 4 Latin square design. The four experimental treatments were E. curvula hay substituted with 0%, 30%, 60% and 90% L. cuneata hay. Each of four experimental periods lasted 27 days, which consisted of a 14-day adaptation period, a 7-day digestibility trial, and a 6-day CH4-measurement period. During the 6-day CH4-measurement period, CH4 emissions were measured continuously over a 24-h period by using an open circuit respiration system. KEY RESULTS : Dry matter intake (DMI, g/kg W0.75) was higher (P < 0.05) for sheep receiving 60% and 90% L. cuneata than 0% and 30% L. cuneata (77.33 and 84.67 g/kg W0.75 vs 62.96 and 62.71 g/kg W0.75). The increase in DMI corresponded with a linear increase in DM digestibility of the experimental treatments from 38% to 45% as the level of L. cuneata substitution increased. Methane yield was not influenced (P > 0.05) by 30% inclusion of L. cuneata (17.6 g CH4/kg DMI) but decreased (P < 0.05) as the inclusion level increased to 60% and 90% (13.8 and 14.3 g CH4/kg DMI). CONCLUSIONS : Inclusion of L. cuneata hay in a diet based on E. curvula hay improved diet digestibility, and led to increased concentrations of crude protein, neutral detergent fibre and non-fibre carbohydrates. Substituting E. curvula hay with 60% L. cuneata on a DM basis resulted in the greatest reduction in CH4 yield of 21.4% compared with a diet of 100% E. curvula. IMPLICATIONS : The results suggest that L. cuneata has the potential to reduce CH4 yield and possibly increase production from sheep by improving diet DM digestibility and through improved DMI.