As a model system for the understanding of human cancer, the mouse has proved immensely valuable. Indeed, studies of mouse models have helped to define the nature of cancer as a genetic disease and demonstrated the causal role of genetic events found in tumors. As the scientific and medical community's understanding of human cancer becomes more sophisticated, however, limitations and potential weaknesses of existing models are revealed. How valid are these murine models for the understanding and treatment of human cancer? The answer, it appears, depends on the nature of the research requirement. Certain models are better suited for particular applications. Using novel molecular tools and genetic strategies, improved models have recently been described that accurately mimic many aspects of human cancer.