Host-specific plant pathogens must coordinate their life cycles with the availability of a host plant. Although this is frequently achieved through a response to specific chemical cues derived from the host plant, little is known about the molecular basis of the response to such cues and how these are used to trigger activation of the life cycle. In host-specific plant-parasitic cyst nematodes, unhatched juvenile nematodes lie dormant in the eggshell until chemical cues from a suitable host plant are detected and the hatching process is initiated. The molecular mechanisms by which hatch is linked to the presence of these chemical cues is unknown. We have identified a novel annexin-like protein that is localised to the eggshell of the potato cyst nematode Globodera rostochiensis. This annexin is unique in having a short peptide insertion that structural modelling predicts is present in one of the calcium-binding sites of this protein. Host-induced gene silencing of the annexin impacts the ability of the nematode to regulate and control permeability of the eggshell. We show that in the presence of the chemicals that induce hatching annexin lipid binding capabilities change, providing the first molecular link between a nematode eggshell protein and host-derived cues. This work demonstrates how a protein from a large family has been recruited to play a critical role in the perception of the presence of a host and provides a new potential route for control of cyst nematodes that impact global food production.