The cultivation of genetically modified Bt maize has raised environmental concerns, as large amounts of plant residues remain in the field and may negatively impact the soil ecosystem. In a field experiment, decomposition of leaf residues from three genetically modified (two expressing the Cry1Ab, one the Cry3Bb1 protein) and six non-transgenic hybrids (the three corresponding non-transformed near-isolines and three conventional hybrids) was investigated using litterbags. To elucidate the mechanisms that cause differences in plant decomposition, structural plant components (i.e., C:N ratio, lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose) were examined. Furthermore, Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 protein concentrations in maize leaf residues were measured from harvest to the next growing season. While leaf residue decomposition in transgenic and non-transgenic plants was similar, differences among conventional cultivars were evident. Similarly, plant components among conventional hybrids differed more than between transgenic and non-transgenic hybrids. Moreover, differences in senescent plant material collected directly from plants were larger than after exposure to soil for 5 months. While the concentration of Cry3Bb1 was higher in senescent maize leaves than that of Cry1Ab, degradation was faster, indicating that Cry3Bb1 has a shorter persistence in plant residues. As decomposition patterns of Bt-transgenic maize were shown to be well within the range of common conventional hybrids, there is no indication of ecologically relevant, adverse effects on the activity of the decomposer community.