Neonatal chronic lung disease (nCLD), also known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), is the most common complication of premature birth, affecting up to 30% of very low birth weight infants. Improved medical care has allowed for the survival of the most premature infants, and significantly changed the pathology of BPD from a disease marked by severe lung injury, to the "new" form characterized by alveolar hypoplasia and impaired vascular development. However, increased patient survival has led to a paucity of pathologic specimens available from infants with BPD. This, combined with the lack of a system to model alveolarization in vitro, has resulted in a great need for animal models that recapitulate key features of the disease. To this end, a number of animal models have been created, by exposing the immature lung to injuries induced by hyperoxia, mechanical stretch, and inflammation, and most recently by the genetic modification of mice. These animal studies have: (i) allowed insight into the mechanisms that determine alveolar growth; (ii) delineated factors central to the pathogenesis of nCLD; and (iii) informed the development of new therapies. In this review, we will summarize the key findings and limitations of the most common animal models of BPD, and discuss how knowledge obtained from these studies has informed clinical care. Future studies should aim to provide a more complete understanding of the pathways that both preserve and repair alveolar growth during injury, which might be translated into novel strategies to treat lung diseases in both infants and adults.