Status epilepticus (SE) is a major medical emergency associated with significant morbidity and mortality. SE is best defined as a continuous, generalized, convulsive seizure lasting > 5 min, or two or more seizures during which the patient does not return to baseline consciousness. The relative efficacy and safety of different drugs in the treatment of human SE should be determined in a prospective, randomized, blinded study. However, complementary animal models of SE are required to answer important questions concerning the treatment of SE because of the obvious difficulties of setting up such studies in clinical emergency conditions. This review offers an overview of the implementation and characteristics of some of the most prevalent animal models of SE currently in use. A description is also provide about how animal models of SE may facilitate the use of neurobiological techniques to successfully address critical questions in the drug treatment of SE. In particular, the experience with recently introduced drugs such as intravenous valproate will be addressed. Finally, the importance of some animal models and pharmacological approaches is explained and we discuss their impact in the development of therapeutic strategies to improve pharmacological treatment for SE is discussed.