Brachypodium distachyon (L.) P. Beauv. (Bd) has previously been developed as a pathosystem model for the wheat root rot pathogen Rhizoctonia solani Kuhn anastomosis group 8 (AG8). Here we explore variation in resistance to R. solani AG8 in Bd, to determine whether genomic tools could be used to find Bd genes involved in the grass defence response, with the aim of using this information for the improvement of Rhizoctonia root rot resistance in wheat. We looked for variation in resistance to R. solani AG8 in a diverse Bd natural accession collection and in Bd T-DNA insertion lines selected based on putative mechanisms reported for tagged genes. All lines were susceptible to the pathogen. Repeatable and significant variation in resistance was measured in both groups, with greater variation in resistance found across the natural accessions than in the T-DNA lines. The widest and most repeatable variation in resistance was between lines Koz-3 and BdTR 13a. The ratio of R. solani AG8-inoculated to uninoculated root length for line Koz-3 was 33% greater than the same ratio for line BdTR 13a. The increased resistance of Koz-3 was associated with nodal root initiation in response to the pathogen. A negative correlation between seedling vigour and resistance was observed, but found not to be the sole source of variation in resistance to R. solani AG8. The only T-DNA line with significantly greater resistance to R. solani AG8 than the reference line had an insertion in a putative galactosyltransferase gene; however, this result needs further confirmation. Genetic resistance to Rhizoctonia root rot is not available in wheat cultivars and only a few instances of quantitative resistance to the pathogen have been described within close relatives of wheat. Brachypodium distachyon offers potential for further investigation to find genes associated with quantitative resistance and mechanisms of tolerance to R. solani AG8.