Cereal cyst nematode (CCN), Heterodera avenae, is one of the most important pathogens of wheat worldwide, and causes significant yield losses. Research on CCN–wheat interactions is hampered by the lack of an effective model pathosystem. This study investigated the potential of the model cereal Brachypodium distachyon (Bd21–3) and diploid wheat 2A (G1812) and 2D (AL8/78) as model hosts for CCN. Nematode infection analysis showed that although some CCN penetrated Bd21–3 roots, these nematodes failed to develop to the later developmental stages or form cysts, indicating B. distachyon is not a host for CCN. A strong burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within Bd21–3 roots infected with CCN was induced 3 days after infection and the expression of seven ROS-producing genes was significantly increased. In contrast, CCN completed its life cycle in both diploid wheat 2A and 2D, and formed normal syncytia in these hosts. Although CCN developmental processes within both diploid wheat 2A and 2D were very similar to those in the susceptible control, the number of cysts formed on diploid wheat 2D was less than those formed on diploid wheat 2A and the susceptible control, indicating that diploid wheat 2A was a more suitable host for CCN than 2D. This is the first report of a potential new pathosystem for CCN–host interactions using diploid wheat.