||A major challenge of the 21st century is to achieve food supply security under a changing climate and roughly a doubling in food demand by 2050 compared to present, the majority of which needs to be met by the cereals wheat, rice, maize, and barley. Future harvests are expected to be especially threatened through increased frequency and severity of extreme events, such as heat waves and drought, that pose particular challenges to plant breeders and crop scientists. Process-based crop models developed for simulating interactions between genotype, environment, and management are widely applied to assess impacts of environmental change on crop yield potentials, phenology, water use, etc. During the last decades, crop simulation has become important for supporting plant breeding, in particular in designing ideotypes, i.e. ‘model plants’, for different crops and cultivation environments. In this review we (i) examine the main limitations of crop simulation modelling for supporting ideotype breeding, (ii) describe developments in cultivar traits in response to climate variations, and (iii) present examples of how crop simulation has supported evaluation and design of cereal cultivars for future conditions. An early success story for rice demonstrates the potential of crop simulation modelling for ideotype breeding. Combining conventional crop simulation with new breeding methods and genetic modelling holds promise to accelerate delivery of future cereal cultivars for different environments. Robustness of model-aided ideotype design can further be enhanced through continued improvements of simulation models to better capture effects of extremes and the use of multi-model ensembles.