The advantages and limitations of using a beating heart model in the development of intravascular optical coherence tomography are discussed. The model fills the gap between bench experiments, performed on phantoms and excised arteries, and whole animal in-vivo preparations. The beating heart model is stable for many hours, allowing for extended measurement times and multiple imaging sessions under in-vivo conditions without the complications of maintaining whole-animal preparation. The perfusate supplying the heart with nutrients can be switched between light scattering blood to a nonscattering perfusate to allow the optical system to be optimized without the need of an efficient blood displacement strategy. Direct access to the coronary vessels means that there is no need for x-ray fluoroscopic guidance of the catheter to the heart, as is the case in whole animal preparation. The model proves to be a valuable asset in the development of our intravascular optical coherence tomography technology.