Chronic pain, especially neuropathic pain and cancer pain, is often not adequately treated by currently available analgesics. Animal models provide pivotal systems for preclinical study of pain. This article reviews some of the most widely used or promising new models for chronic pain. Partial spinal ligation, chronic constriction injury, and L5/L6 spinal nerve ligation represent three of the best characterized rodent models of peripheral neuropathy. Recently, several mouse and rat bone cancer pain models have been reported. Primary or permanent cultures of sensory neurons have been established to study the molecular mechanism of pain, especially for neurotransmitter release and signal transduction. The emerging gene microarray, genomics and proteomics methods may be applied to throughly characterize these cells. Each model is uniquely created with distinct mechanisms, it is therefore essential to report and interpret results in the context of a specific model.