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This paper proposes an improved Ad-hoc On-Demand Distance Vector (AODV) routing protocol based on node-grade to reduce the energy consumption of nodes in wireless sensor networks. The improved AODV called Grade-AODV (G-AODV) assigns a grade to each node according to the hop distance of the node to the sink node. The lower grade a node has, the closer it is to the sink. Each node is restricted to receive the route request (RREQ) packet from the nodes which have larger grade than itself. Therefore, the proposed G-AODV can reduce the energy consumption of nodes from two aspects: 1) the useless broadcast of RREQ can be avoided; 2) each packet uses less network resources because the route paths with less hop distance are set up. The performance of G-AODV is evaluated by simulation through OPNET modeler. The simulation results show that the G-AODV has better performance than AODV in view of the utilization and lifetime of network.