The refinement of surgical techniques represents a key opportunity to improve the welfare of laboratory rodents, while meeting legal and ethical obligations. Current methods used for monitoring intra-abdominal disease progression in rodents usually involve euthanasia at various time-points for end of study, one-time individual tissue collections. Most rodent organ tumour models are developed by the introduction of tumour cells via laparotomy or via ultrasound-guided indirect visualization. Ischaemic rodent models are often generated using laparotomies. This approach requires a high number of rodents, and in some instances introduces high degrees of morbidity and mortality, thereby increasing study variability and expense. Most importantly, most laparotomies do not promote the highest level of rodent welfare. Recent improvements in laparoscopic equipment and techniques have enabled the adaptation of laparoscopy for rodent procedures. Laparoscopy, which is considered the gold standard for many human abdominal procedures, allows for serial biopsy collections from the same animal, results in decreased pain and tissue trauma as well as quicker postsurgical recovery, and preserves immune function in comparison to the same procedures performed by laparotomy. Laparoscopy improves rodent welfare, decreases inter-animal variability, thereby reducing the number of required animals, allows for the replacement of larger species, decreases expense and improves data yield. This review article compares rodent laparotomy and laparoscopic surgical methods, and describes the utilization of laparoscopy for the development of cancer models and assessment of disease progression to improve data collection and animal welfare. In addition, currently available rodent laparoscopic equipment and instrumentation are presented.