The experimental animal models of arthritis which in certain aspects share similarities to human rheumatoid arthritis are reviewed. Various methods have been applied to induce in animals experimental models of arthritis which would provide important insights into the aetiopathogenetic mechanisms of human RA. Immunological methods and infectious agents induced the most interesting models. The histology of the synovial tissue, regardless of the inducing mechanisms, is similar to the lesions of RA. Yet, none of these experimental models of arthritis reflects all the articular and systemic features, the immunological profile and the genetic factors which characterize the human disease. The animal models of arthritis reported here and the development of new ones may ultimately offer the information necessary for the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the aetiopathogenesis of human rheumatoid disease.