HIV-1 only infects humans and chimpanzees. SIV or SHIV are, therefore, used as models for HIV in rhesus, cynomologus and pigtail macaques. Since conducting experiments in primate models does not fully mimic infection or vaccination against HIV-1 and is expensive, there is a great need for small-animal models in which it is possible to study HIV-1 infection, immunity and vaccine efficacy. This review summarizes the available murine models for studying HIV-1 infection with an emphasis on our experience of the HIV-1-infected-cell challenge as a model for evaluating candidate HIV-1 vaccines. In the cell-based challenge model, several important factors that, hopefully, can be related to vaccine efficacy in humans were discovered: the efficiency of combining plasmid DNA representing several of the viral genes originating from multiple clades of HIV-1, the importance of adjuvants activating innate and induced immunity and the enhanced HIV eradication by drug-conjugated antibody.