Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) are a common but asymptomatic disease that has high susceptibility to rupture. Current therapeutic options are limited to surgical procedures because no pharmacological approaches have been proven to decrease either expansion or rupture of human AAAs. The current dearth of effective medical treatment is attributed to insufficient understanding of the mechanisms underlying the initiation, propagation and rupture of AAAs. This review will emphasize recent advances in mechanistic studies that may provide insights into potential pharmacological treatments for this disease. While we primarily focus on recent salient findings, we also discuss mechanisms that continue to be controversial depending on models under study. Despite the progress on exploring mechanisms of experimental AAAs, ultimate validation of mechanisms will require completion of prospective double-blinded clinical trials. In addition, we advocate increased emphasis of collaborative studies using animal models and human tissues for determination of mechanisms that explore expansion and rupture of existing AAAs.