The incidence of depression has been increasing over the recent years, which can cause serious physical and mental health problems in humans, but its pathogenesis has not been fully clarified. Animal models can simulate the depression in humans, thus are widely used for studies of the pathogenesis of depression, as well as in research and development of new antidepressants. According to the different ways of modeling, animal models of depression can be divided into the following categories:stress models, surgical models, drug-induced models and genetic models. These models can provide useful tools to explain some pathogenetic aspects of depression, such as neurotransmitters and their receptors/transporters, neurotrophic factors, neuroendocrine systems, inflammatory hypotheses, and so on. This review summarizes and evaluates the commonly used rodent animal models of depression and provides a reference for further research on depression.