Risk models play a vital role in monitoring health care performances. Despite extensive research and widespread use of risk models in cardiac surgery, there are methodologic problems. We reviewed the methodology used for risk models for short-term mortality. The findings suggest that many risk models are developed in an ad hoc manner. Important aspects such as selection of risk factors, handling of missing values, and size of the data used for model development are not dealt with adequately. Methodologic details presented in publications are often sparse and unclear. Model development and validation processes are not always linked to the clinical aim of the model, which may affect their clinical validity. We make some suggestions in this review for improvement in methodology and reporting.