Cooperative multiple-input multiple-output technology allows a wireless network to coordinate among distributed antennas and achieve considerable performance gains similar to those provided by conventional MIMO systems. It promises significant improvements in spectral efficiency and network coverage and is a major candidate technology in various standard proposals for the fourth-generation wireless communication systems. For the design and accurate performance assessment of cooperative MIMO systems, realistic cooperative MIMO channel models are indispensable. This article provides an overview of the state of the art in cooperative MIMO channel modeling. We show that although the existing standardized point-to-point MIMO channel models can be applied to a certain extent to model cooperative MIMO channels, many new challenges remain in cooperative MIMO channel modeling, such as how to model mobile-to-mobile channels, and how to characterize the heterogeneity and correlation of multiple links at the system level appropriately. © 2010 IEEE.