Lack of early detection and effective interventions are major factors contributing to the poor prognosis and dismal survival rates of pancreatic cancer patients for more than sixty years. Detection of pancreatic cancer at an early stage might permit life-saving intervention. Clinical and preclinical diagnosis and evaluation of pancreatic cancers involve several imaging technologies including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Positron emission tomography (PET), Computed tomography (CT), Ultrasound (US), bioluminescent imaging and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The advent of genetically engineered animal models that recapitulate the cellular and molecular pathology of human pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has not yet yielded translational implications. Although the use of tumor xenografts to predict drug efficacy in patients has been disappointing, use of novel transgenic mice models should permit improved early detection and development of drug regimens through integration of appropriate imaging modalities. This review will consider issues that are unique to working with transgenic mouse models, such as the biology of genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models, stage- tumor-specific detection using imaging technologies, use of monoclonal antibodies, nanoparticles, and biomarkers, and development of chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic drugs for PDAC. These issues will be considered in the context of recently developed preclinical models of pancreatic cancer.