Microglia play an essential role in maintaining central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis, as well as responding to injury and disease. Most neurological disorders feature microglial activation, a process whereby microglia undergo profound morphological and transcriptional changes aimed at containing CNS damage and promoting repair, but often resulting in overt inflammation that sustains and propagates the neurodegenerative process. This is especially evident in multiple sclerosis (MS), were microglial activation and microglia-driven neuroinflammation are considered key events in the onset, progression, and resolution of the disease. Our understanding of microglial functions in MS has widened exponentially in the last decade by way of new tools and markers to discriminate microglia from other myeloid populations. Consequently, the complex functional and phenotypical diversity of microglia can now be appreciated. This, in combination with a variety of animal models that mimic specific features and processes of MS, has contributed to filling the gap of knowledge in the cascade of events underlying MS pathophysiology. The purpose of this review is to present the most up to date knowledge of the dynamic responses of microglia in the commonly used animal models of MS, specifically the immune-mediated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model, and the chemically-induced cuprizone and lysolecithin models. Elucidating the spectrum of microglial functions in these models, from detrimental to protective, is essential to identify emerging targets for therapy and guide drug discovery efforts.