The cytoskeleton is a complex polymer network that plays an essential role in the functionality of eukaryotic cells. It endows cells with mechanical stability, adaptability, and motility. To identify and understand the mechanisms underlying this large variety of capabilities and to possibly transfer them to engineered networks makes it necessary to have in vitro and in silico model systems of the cytoskeleton. These models must be realistic representatives of the cellular network and at the same time be controllable and reproducible. Here, an approach to design complementary experimental and numerical model systems of the actin cytoskeleton is presented and some of their properties discussed. © 2007 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.