The Henderson-Hasselbalch equation and the base excess have been used traditionally to describe the acid-base balance of the blood. In 1981, Stewart proposed a new model of acid-base balance based upon three variables, the "strong ion difference" (SID), the total weak acids (ATot), and the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (Pco2). Over 20 years later, Stewart's physiochemical model still remains largely unknown. In this review, we will present both the traditional and the Stewart models of acid-base balance and then derive each using an "ion equilibrium method." Modern theories of acid-base balance may be useful toward the understanding of complex acid-base disorders.