INTRODUCTION: Current treatment of the abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) is based on consensus definitions but several questions regarding fluid regime or critical level of intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH)) remain unsolved. It is questionable whether these issues can be addressed in prospective randomized trials in the near future.This review aimed to summarize current animal models and to outline requirements for the best model. METHODS: PubMed data base was searched for articles describing animal models of ACS. RESULTS: 25 articles were found. ACS in animals has not been defined yet. Investigations varied considerably regarding the experimental design. Animals were rats, rabbits, dogs and pigs with a bodyweight from 200g to 70 kg. IAP increase varied from 20 to 50 mmHg.The time period of IAH ranged between 30 min and 24h. The time between the IAH insult and organ dysfunction varied between 15 min and 18h. Investigations demonstrated that IAH is able to induce loss of intravascular volume, organ hypoperfusion, ischemic organ damage and multiple organ failure within 4 to 6h. CONCLUSION: In contrast to IAH or pneumoperitoneum for surgical exposure, ACS in an animal may be stated if an artificially increased IAP leads to circulatory, respiratory and renal insufficiency. A next step in animal research would be the development of a "pathological" model in which haemorrhage or systemic inflammation together with resuscitation lead to abdominal fluid accumulation and increased intra-abdominal pressure.