We introduce propagation models (PMs), a formalism able to express several kinds of equations that describe the behavior of biochemical reaction networks. Furthermore, we introduce the propagation abstract data type (PADT), which separates concerns regarding different numerical algorithms for the transient analysis of biochemical reaction networks from concerns regarding their implementation, thus allowing for portable and efficient solutions. The state of a propagation abstract data type is given by a vector that assigns mass values to a set of nodes, and its next operator propagates mass values through this set of nodes. We propose an approximate implementation of the next operator, based on threshold abstraction, which propagates only "significant" mass values and thus achieves a compromise between efficiency and accuracy. Finally, we give three use cases for propagation models: the chemical master equation (CME), the reaction rate equation (RRE), and a hybrid method that combines these two equations. These three applications use propagation models in order to propagate probabilities and/or expected values and variances of the model's variables.