The rates of increase in yield of the main commercial crops have been steadily falling in many areas worldwide. This generates concerns because there is a growing demand for plant biomass due to the increasing population. Plant yield should thus be improved in the context of climate change and decreasing natural resources. It is a major challenge which could be tackled by improving and/or altering light-use efficiency, CO2 uptake and fixation, primary metabolism, plant architecture and leaf morphology, and developmental plant processes. In this review, we discuss some of the traits which could lead to yield increase, with a focus on how natural genetic variation could be harnessed. Moreover, we provide insights for advancing our understanding of the molecular aspects governing plant growth and yield, and propose future avenues for improvement of crop yield. We also suggest that knowledge accumulated over the last decade in the field of molecular physiology should be integrated into new ideotypes.