Laboratory models, both animal and human, have made enormous contributions to our understanding of addiction. For addictive disorders, animal models have the great advantage of possessing both face validity and a significant degree of predictive validity, already demonstrated. Another important advantage to this field is the ability of reciprocal interplay between preclinical and clinical experiments. These models have made important contributions to the development of medications to treat addictive disorders and will likely result in even more advances in the future. Human laboratory models have gone beyond data obtained from patient histories and enabled investigators to make direct observations of human drug self-administration and test the effects of putative medications on this behavior. This review examines in detail some animal and human models that have led not only to important theories of addiction mechanisms but also to medications shown to be effective in the clinic.