Numerous studies using gastric bypass rat models have been recently conducted to uncover underlying physiological mechanisms of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Reflecting on lessons learned from gastric bypass rat models may thus aid the development of gastric bypass models in mice and other species. This review aims to discuss technical and experimental details of published gastric bypass rat models to understand advantages and limitations of this experimental tool. The review is based on PubMed literature using the search terms 'animal model', 'rodent model', 'bariatric surgery', 'gastric bypass', and 'Roux-en-Y gastric bypass'. All studies published up until February 2011 were included. 32 studies describing 15 different rat gastric bypass models were included. Description of surgical technique differs in terms of pouch size, limb lengths, preservation of the vagal nerve, and mortality rate. Surgery was carried out exclusively in male rats of different strains and ages. Pre- and postoperative diets also varied significantly. Technical and experimental variations in published gastric bypass rat models complicate comparison and identification of potential physiological mechanisms involved in gastric bypass. In summary, there is no clear evidence that any of these models is superior, but there is an emerging need for standardization of the procedure to achieve consistent and comparable data.