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Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding disease affecting premature infants. ROP is characterized by pathological ocular angiogenesis or retinal neovascularization (NV). Models of ROP have yielded much of what is currently known about physiological and pathological blood vessel growth in the retina. The rat provides a particularly attractive and cost effective model of ROP. The rat model of ROP consistently produces a robust pattern of NV, similar to that seen in humans. This model has been used to study gross aspects of angiogenesis. More recently, it has been used to identify and therapeutically target specific genes and molecular mechanisms involved in the angiogenic cascade. As angiogenesis occurs as a complication of many diseases, knowledge gained from these studies has the potential to impact nonocular angiogenic conditions. This article provides historical perspective on the development and use of the rat model of ROP. Key findings generated through the use of this model are also summarized.