Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity both in civilian life and on the battlefield worldwide. Survivors of TBI frequently experience long-term disabling changes in cognition, sensorimotor function and personality. Over the past three decades, animal models have been developed to replicate the various aspects of human TBI, to better understand the underlying pathophysiology and to explore potential treatments. Nevertheless, promising neuroprotective drugs that were identified as being effective in animal TBI models have all failed in Phase II or Phase III clinical trials. This failure in clinical translation of preclinical studies highlights a compelling need to revisit the current status of animal models of TBI and therapeutic strategies.