Dengue is a vector-borne disease recognized as the major arbovirose with four immunologically distant dengue serotypes coexisting in many endemic areas. Several mathematical models have been developed to understand the transmission dynamics of dengue, including the role of cross-reactive antibodies for the four different dengue serotypes. We aimed to review deterministic models of dengue transmission, in order to summarize the evolution of insights for, and provided by, such models, and to identify important characteristics for future model development. We identified relevant publications using PubMed and ISI Web of Knowledge, focusing on mathematical deterministic models of dengue transmission. Model assumptions were systematically extracted from each reviewed model structure, and were linked with their underlying epidemiological concepts. After defining common terms in vector-borne disease modelling, we generally categorised fourty-two published models of interest into single serotype and multiserotype models. The multi-serotype models assumed either vector-host or direct host-to-host transmission (ignoring the vector component). For each approach, we discussed the underlying structural and parameter assumptions, threshold behaviour and the projected impact of interventions. In view of the expected availability of dengue vaccines, modelling approaches will increasingly focus on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of vaccination options. For this purpose, the level of representation of the vector and host populations seems pivotal. Since vector-host transmission models would be required for projections of combined vaccination and vector control interventions, we advocate their use as most relevant to advice health policy in the future. The limited understanding of the factors which influence dengue transmission as well as limited data availability remain important concerns when applying dengue models to real-world decision problems.