Brachypodium distachyon is a wild grass with a short life cycle. Although it is related to small grain cereals such as wheat, its genome is only a fraction of the size. A draft genome sequence is currently available, and molecular and genetic tools have been developed for transformation, mutagenesis and gene mapping. Accessions collected from across its ancestral range show a surprising degree of phenotypic variation in many traits, including those implicated in domestication of the cereals. Thus, given its rapid cycling time and ease of cultivation, Brachypodium will be a useful model for investigating problems in grass biology.