Pancreatic cancer is a challenging disease for patients, doctors and researchers who for decades have searched for a cure for this deadly malignancy. Although existing mouse models of pancreatic cancer have shed light on the mechanistic basis of the neoplastic conversion of the pancreas, their impact in terms of offering new diagnostics and therapeutic modalities remains limited. Chronic pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas that is associated with a gradual damage of the organ and an increased risk of developing neoplastic lesions. In this review, we propose that detailed studies of chronic inflammatory processes in the pancreas will provide insights into the evolution of pancreatic cancer. This information may prove useful in the design of effective therapeutic strategies to battle the disease.