General principles in development and application of hydrological models are discussed and related to the confidence in the results. The presentation is mainly based on the experience from the work with the HBV and PULSE models at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute between 1971 and 1990 but has also been influenced by other modelling work. It covers a discussion on the optimal complexity of models, use of observations, calibration, control and sensitivity analysis. Special attention is given to the uncertainties encountered when using hydrological models for the simulation of extreme floods and long-term scenario simulations. Finally a few ethical problems in modelling are mentioned.