Mouse models that recapitulate the full phenotypic spectrum of a psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia, are impossible. However, a more piecemeal recreation of phenotypic components is feasible and promises to harness the power of animal models using approaches that are either off limits or confounded by drug treatment in humans. In that context, animal models will have a central and indispensable role in the process of discovering the causes of psychiatric disorders and generating novel, mechanism-based treatments. Here, we discuss current approaches used to generate animal models of psychiatric disorders, address the different components of these disorders that can be modeled in animals, and describe currently available analytical tools. We also discuss accumulating empirical data and take an in-depth look at what we believe to be the future of animal models made possible by recent advances in psychiatric genetics.