Streptococcus pneumoniae is a colonizer of human nasopharynx, but it is also an important pathogen responsible for high morbidity, high mortality, numerous disabilities, and high health costs throughout the world. Major diseases caused by S. pneumoniae are otitis media, pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis. Despite the availability of antibiotics and vaccines, pneumococcal infections still have high mortality rates, especially in risk groups. For this reason, there is an exceptionally extensive research effort worldwide to better understand the diseases caused by the pneumococcus, with the aim of developing improved therapeutics and vaccines. Animal experimentation is an essential tool to study the pathogenesis of infectious diseases and test novel drugs and vaccines. This article reviews both historical and innovative laboratory pneumococcal animal models that have vastly added to knowledge of (i) mechanisms of infection, pathogenesis, and immunity; (ii) efficacies of antimicrobials; and (iii) screening of vaccine candidates. A comprehensive description of the techniques applied to induce disease is provided, the advantages and limitations of mouse, rat, and rabbit models used to mimic pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis are discussed, and a section on otitis media models is also included. The choice of appropriate animal models for in vivo studies is a key element for improved understanding of pneumococcal disease.