Bayesian network analysis is a form of probabilistic modeling which derives from empirical data a directed acyclic graph (DAG) describing the dependency structure between random variables. Bayesian networks are increasingly finding application in areas such as computational and systems biology, and more recently in epidemiological analyses. The key distinction between standard empirical modeling approaches, such as generalised linear modeling, and Bayesian network analyses is that the latter attempts not only to identify statistically associated variables, but to additionally, and empirically, separate these into those directly and indirectly dependent with one or more outcome variables. Such discrimination is vastly more ambitious but has the potential to reveal far more about key features of complex disease systems. Applying Bayesian network modeling to biological and medical data has considerable computational demands, combined with the need to ensure robust model selection given the vast model space of possible DAGs. These challenges require the use of approximation techniques, such as the Laplace approximation, Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation and parametric bootstrapping, along with computational parallelization. A case study in structure discovery - identification of an optimal DAG for given data - is presented which uses additive Bayesian networks to explore veterinary disease data of industrial and medical relevance.