Animal models of osteoarthritis are used to study the pathogenesis of cartilage degeneration and to evaluate potential antiarthritic drugs for clinical use. Animal models of naturally occurring osteoarthritis (OA) occur in knee joints of guinea pigs, mice and other laboratory animal species. Transgenic models have been developed in mice. Commonly utilized surgical instability models include medial meniscal tear in guinea pigs and rats, medial or lateral partial meniscectomy in rabbits, medial partial or total meniscectomy or anterior cruciate transection in dogs. Additional models of cartilage degeneration can be induced by intra-articular iodoacetate injection or by administration of oral or parenteral quinolone antibiotics. None of these models have a proven track record of predicting efficacy in human disease since there are no agents that have been proven to provide anything other than symptomatic relief in human OA. However, agents that are active in these models are currently in clinical trials. Methodologies, gross and histopathologic features and comparisons to human disease will be discussed for the various models.