Summary:  An increasing number of model systems of plasma cell tumor (PCT) formation have been and are being developed. Discussed here are six models in mice and multiple myeloma (MM) in humans. Each model illustrates a unique set of biological factors. There are two general types of model systems: those that depend upon naturally arising mutagenic changes (pristane-induced PCTs, 5TMM, and MM) and those that are associated with oncogenes (Eµ-v-abl), growth factors [interleukin-6 (IL-6)], and anti-apoptotic factors (Bcl-xL/Bcl-2). PCTs develop in several special tissue microenvironments that provide essential cytokines (IL-6) and cell–cell interactions. In mice, the activation and deregulation of c-myc by chromosomal translocations is a major feature in many of the models. This mechanism is much less a factor in MM and the 5T model in mice. Genetically determined susceptibility is involved in many of the mouse models, but only a few genes have been implicated thus far.