Protein variability of 27 populations of cyst nematodes belonging to the Heterodera avenae complex were studied using isoelectric focusing (IEF). Sixteen Norwegian populations were compared with standard populations of H. avenae, H. filipjevi, H. mani and H. arenaria. Norwegian populations were also tested for pathotype on selected cereal cultivars. Based on differences in the protein banding pattern, eight clusters of populations could be recognised. Nine Norwegian populations grouped together with H. avenae standards. The three Swedish populations: Knislinge, Ringsåsen and Våxtorp, previously classified as H. avenae, differed from this species, from H. filipjevi and from each other. Four Norwegian populations clustered together with the Våxtorp population. Two Norwegian populations formed a cluster together with a Swedish H. filipjevi standard. The Norwegian population Brekstad differed from all other populations, as did the standards of H. mani and H. arenaria. Pathotype testing of the Norwegian populations identified ten populations as H. avenae pathotype Ha 11, while three were close to pathotype Ha 12. The two H. filipjevi populations were close to the Swedish pathotype west. The Brekstad population differed from all others also in host spectrum. This population and the Våxtorp-group demonstrate a complexity within the Norwegian cereal cyst nematodes that merits further investigation.