Disease is often associated with debilitating clinical signs, disorders or production losses in animals and/or humans, leading to severe socio-economic repercussions. This explains the high priority that national health authorities and international organisations give to selecting control strategies for and the eradication of specific diseases. When a control strategy is selected and implemented, an effective method of evaluating its efficacy is through modelling. To illustrate the usefulness of models in evaluating control strategies, the authors describe several examples in detail, including three examples of classification and regression tree modelling to evaluate and improve the early detection of disease: West Nile fever in equids, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and multifactorial diseases, such as colony collapse disorder (CCD) in the United States. Also examined are regression modelling to evaluate skin test practices and the efficacy of an awareness campaign for bovine tuberculosis (bTB); mechanistic modelling to monitor the progress of a control strategy for BSE; and statistical nationwide modelling to analyse the spatio-temporal dynamics of bTB and search for potential risk factors that could be used to target surveillance measures more effectively. In the accurate application of models, an interdisciplinary rather than a multidisciplinary approach is required, with the fewest assumptions possible.