Pertussis remains a challenging public health problem with many aspects of infection, disease and immunity poorly understood. Initially controlled by mass vaccination, pertussis resurgence has occurred in some countries with well-established vaccination programs, particularly among adolescents and young adults. Several studies have used mathematical models to investigate drivers of pertussis epidemiology and predict the likely impact of different vaccination strategies. We reviewed a number of these models to evaluate their suitability to answer questions of public health importance regarding optimal vaccine scheduling. We critically discuss the approaches adopted and the impact of chosen model structures and assumptions on study conclusions. Common limitations were a lack of contemporary, population relevant data for parameterization and a limited understanding of the relationship between infection and disease. We make recommendations for future model development and suggest epidemiologic data collections that would facilitate efforts to reduce uncertainty and improve the robustness of model-derived conclusions.