Models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in laboratory animals are important tools for research into pathogenic mechanisms and the development of effective, safe therapies. Rodent models (rats and mice) have provided important information about the pathogenic mechanisms. However, the evolutionary distance between rodents and humans hampers the translation of scientific principles into effective therapies. The impact of the genetic distance between the species is especially seen with treatments based on biological molecules, which are usually species-specific. The outbred nature and the closer anatomical, genetic, microbiological, physiological, and immunological similarity of nonhuman primates to humans may help to bridge the wide gap between inbred rodent strain models and the heterogeneous RA patient population. Here we review clinical, immunological and pathological aspects of the rhesus monkey model of collagen-induced arthritis, which has emerged as a reproducible model of human RA in nonhuman primates.