The development of chemically active antifouling paints has traditionally been based on an empirical approach. Optimisation and evaluation of novel and existing products are frequently conducted by means of, for example, systematic paint rotary tests in the laboratory or at sea sites. In this review, the usefulness of combining rotary experiments with the development of detailed mathematical models of paint behaviour will be discussed with reference to the relevant literature. Mathematical models can generally be used in the design of suitable release systems for various active components such as proteins or biocides, as well as for the estimation of release rates from different compositions of paints under various seawater conditions. Insoluble matrix, soluble matrix and self-polishing paints will be considered. Simulations from recent publications that show the effects of dynamic changes in seawater on paint behaviour will be presented. Examples of potential uses of paint models for accelerated polishing and leaching tests and screening of novel paint components will also be, discussed. Directions of future modelling work are suggested.