Malaria infection continues to be a major health problem worldwide and drug resistance in the major human parasite species, Plasmodium falciparum, is increasing in South East Asia. Control measures including novel drugs and vaccines are in development, and contributions to the rational design and optimal usage of these interventions are urgently needed. Infection involves the complex interaction of parasite dynamics, host immunity, and drug effects. The long life cycle (48 hours in the common human species) and synchronized replication cycle of the parasite population present significant challenges to modeling the dynamics of Plasmodium infection. Coupled with these, variation in immune recognition and drug action at different life cycle stages leads to further complexity. We review the development and progress of “within‐host” models of Plasmodium infection, and how these have been applied to understanding and interpreting human infection and animal models of infection.