Rodent models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are useful tools to study the pathogenic process of RA. Among the most widely used models of RA are the streptococcal cell wall (SCW) arthritis model and the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Both innate and adaptive immune mechanisms are involved in these rodent models. While no models perfectly duplicate the condition of human RA, they are easily reproducible, well defined and have proven useful for development of new therapies for arthritis, as exemplified by cytokine blockade therapies. Besides SCW and CIA models, there are numerous others including transgenic models such as K/BxN, induced models such as adjuvant-induced and pristane models, and spontaneous models in certain mouse strains, that have been used to help understand some of the underlying mechanisms. This review provides an update and analysis of RA models in mice and rats. The array of models has provided rheumatologists and immunologists a means to understand the multifactorial disease in humans, to identify new drug targets, and to test new therapies.