Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by allergic skin inflammation. A hallmark of AD is dry itchy skin due, at least in part, to defects in skin genes that are important for maintaining barrier function. The pathogenesis of AD remains incompletely understood. Since the description of the Nc/Nga mouse as a spontaneously occurring model of AD, a number of other mouse models of AD have been developed. They can be categorized into three groups: (1) models induced by epicutaneous application of sensitizers; (2) transgenic mice that either overexpress or lack selective molecules; (3) mice that spontaneously develop AD-like skin lesions. These models have resulted in a better understanding of the pathogenesis of AD. This review discusses these models and emphasizes the role of mechanical skin injury and skin barrier dysfunction in eliciting allergic skin inflammation.