As global climate change deeply affects terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle, it is necessary to understand how grasslands respond to climate change. In this study, we examined the role of climate change on net primary productivity (NPP) from 1961 to 2010 in the Hulunbuir grasslands of China, using a calibrated process-based biogeochemistry model. The results indicated that: Temperature experienced a rise trend from 1961; summer and autumn precipitation showed a rise trend before the 1990s and decline trend after the 1990s. Winter and spring precipitation showed an ascending trend. Simulated NPP had a high inter-annual variability during the study period, ranging from 139 g Cm−2 to 348 g Cm−2. The annual mean NPP was significant and positive in correlation with the annual variation of precipitation, and the trend was first raised then fell with the turn point at the 1990s. Temperature had a 20–30 d lag in summer, but none in spring and autumn; precipitation had a 10–20 d lag in summer. The climate lag effect analysis confirmed that temperature had a positive effect on NPP in spring and a negative effect in summer.