Negative symptoms encompass diminution in emotional expression and motivation, some of which relate to human attributes that may not be accessible readily in animals. Additionally, their refractoriness to treatment precludes therapeutic validation of putative models. This review considers critically the application of mutant mouse models to the study of the pathobiology of negative symptoms. It focuses on 4 main approaches: genes related to the pathobiology of schizophrenia, genes associated with risk for schizophrenia, neurodevelopmental-synaptic genes, and variant approaches from other areas of neurobiology. Despite rapid advances over the past several years, it is clear that we continue to face substantive challenges in applying mutant models to better understand the pathobiology of negative symptoms: the majority of evidence relates to impairments in social behavior, with only limited data relating to anhedonia and negligible data concerning avolition and other features; even for the most widely examined feature, social behavior, studies have used diverse assessments thereof; modelling must proceed in cognizance of increasing evidence that genes and pathobiologies implicated in schizophrenia overlap with other psychotic disorders, particularly bipolar disorder. Despite the caveats and challenges, several mutant lines evidence a phenotype for at least one index of social behavior. Though this may suggest superficially some shared relationship to negative symptoms, it is not yet possible to specify either the scope or the pathobiology of that relationship for any given gene. The breadth and depth of ongoing studies in mutants hold the prospect of addressing these shortcomings.