Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is one of the most difficult human malignancies to treat. Five-year survival rate of PDA patients is 7%, and PDA is predicted to become the second leading cancer-related cause of death in the United States of America. Despite intensive efforts, the translation of findings in preclinical studies has been ineffective, due partially to the lack of preclinical models that faithfully recapitulate features of human PDA. Here we review current preclinical models for human PDA (e.g. human PDA cell lines, cell line-based xenografts and patient-derived tumor xenografts). In addition, we discuss potential applications of the recently developed pancreatic ductal organoids, three-dimensional culture systems and organoid-based xenografts as new preclinical models for PDA.