Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is caused by mutations in PKD1 or PKD2, which encode polycystin-1 and polycystin-2, respectively. Rodent models are available to study the pathogenesis of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and for preclinical testing of potential therapies-either genetically engineered models carrying mutations in Pkd1 or Pkd2 or models of renal cystic disease that do not have mutations in these genes. The models are characterized by age at onset of disease, rate of disease progression, the affected nephron segment, the number of affected nephrons, synchronized or unsynchronized cyst formation and the extent of fibrosis and inflammation. Mouse models have provided valuable mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of PKD; for example, mutated Pkd1 or Pkd2 cause renal cysts but additional factors are also required, and the rate of cyst formation is increased in the presence of renal injury. Animal studies have also revealed complex genetic and functional interactions among various genes and proteins associated with PKD. Here, we provide an update on the preclinical models commonly used to study the molecular pathogenesis of ADPKD and test potential therapeutic strategies. Progress made in understanding the pathophysiology of human ADPKD through these animal models is also discussed.