We used the cytokinin-responsive Arabidopsis response regulator (ARR)5 gene promoter fused to a β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene, and cytokinin oxidase (CKX) genes from Arabidopsis thaliana (AtCKX3) and maize (ZmCKX1) to investigate the roles of cytokinins in lateral root formation and symbiosis in Lotus japonicus. ARR5 expression was undetectable in the dividing initial cells at early stages of lateral root formation, but later we observed high expression in the base of the lateral root primordium. The root tip continues to express ARR5 during subsequent development of the lateral root. These results suggest a dynamic role for cytokinin in lateral root development. We observed ARR5 expression in curled/deformed root hairs, and also in nodule primordia in response to Rhizobial inoculation. This expression declined once the nodule emerged from the parent root. Root penetration and migration of root-knot nematode (RKN) second-stage larvae (L2) did not elevate ARR5 expression, but a high level of expression was induced when L2 reached the differentiating vascular bundle and during early stages of the nematode–plant interaction. ARR5 expression was specifically absent in mature giant cells (GCs), although dividing cells around the GCs continued to express this reporter. The same pattern was observed using a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter driven by the ARR5 promoter in tomato. Overexpression of CKX genes rendered the transgenic hairy roots resistant to exogenous application of the cytokinin [N6-(Δ2 isopentenyl) adenine riboside] (iPR). CKX roots have significantly more lateral roots, but fewer nodules and nematode-induced root galls per plant, than control hairy roots.