Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. At the diagnostic stage, the AD brain is characterized by the accumulation of extracellular amyloid plaques, intracellular neurofibrillary tangles and neuronal loss. Despite the large variety of therapeutic approaches, this condition remains incurable, since at the time of clinical diagnosis, the brain has already suffered irreversible and extensive damage. In recent years, it has become evident that AD starts decades prior to its clinical presentation. In this regard, transgenic animal models can shed much light on the mechanisms underlying this "pre-clinical" stage, enabling the identification and validation of new therapeutic targets. This paper summarizes the formidable efforts to create models mimicking the various aspects of AD pathology in the rat. Transgenic rat models offer distinctive advantages over mice. Rats are physiologically, genetically and morphologically closer to humans. More importantly, the rat has a well-characterized, rich behavioral display. Consequently, rat models of AD should allow a more sophisticated and accurate assessment of the impact of pathology and novel therapeutics on cognitive outcomes.