There exists currently a fair degree of introspection in the pain research community about the value of animal research. This review represents a defense of animal research in pain. We discuss the inherent advantage of animal models over human research as well as the crucial complementary roles animal studies play vis-a-vis human imaging and genetic studies. Finally, we discuss recent developments in animal models of pain that should improve the relevance and translatability of findings using laboratory animals. We believe that pain research using animal models is a continuing necessity-to understand fundamental mechanisms, identify new analgesic targets, and inform, guide and follow up human studies-if novel analgesics are to be developed for the treatment of chronic pain. (C) 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.