Despite the use of antibiotics, the prognosis of bacterial meningitis is still poor due to central nervous system (CNS) complications, such as brain edema formation, cerebrovascular alterations, and intracranial hemorrhage. Experimental studies with animal models have given new insights into its pathophysiology during the acute phase of the disease. In recent years, genetically engineered mice have become a powerful tool in investigating the role of particular genes by targeted deletion and have also been applied in bacterial meningitis research. By using knockout mice, new knowledge of the roles of the different cytokines, proteases, and oxidants involved in the inflammatory cascade has emerged. In the future, temporal and cell type-specific control of gene expression will provide even more information on the impact of a particular gene on meningitis-induced brain damage.