Abstract Inertial confinement fusion (ICF) is an advanced energy source presently under development in several countries. The initial concepts were studied about 20 years ago by numerical simulations with computer codes containing a minimal amount of physics. Today's ICF simulation codes contain very sophisticated physics and require tens of hours to run on supercomputers. These codes have found a wide range of utility in experimental design and data analysis. Certain simulation codes address highly specific issues such as laser-plasma interactions, while others are more general and are used to model an entire implosion experiment. Output from the simulation codes can be compared with laboratory data as well as provide a visualization of the physics processes governing the implosion dynamics.