Brachypodium distachyon (brachypodium) is emerging as a highly effective model for cereals. Fitzgerald et al. provide an overview of the work performed in recent years on the use of brachypodium to study cereal diseases, noting that diverse pathogens, including many of major economic significance, infect brachypodium in a similar manner as their cereal hosts. They discuss the potential of burgeoning brachypodium resources to provide new insights into the host response to infection, and summarize the extensive use of brachypodium for comparative genomic analysis to assist in the mapping of cereal resistance genes. Future prospects for brachypodium as a model to study cereal–pathogen interactions are explored.