One of the most important aspects of Computational Cell Biology is the understanding of the complicated dynamical processes that take place on plasma membranes. These processes are often so complicated that purely temporal models cannot always adequately capture the dynamics. On the other hand, spatial models can have large computational overheads. In this article, we review some of these issues with respect to chemistry, membrane microdomains and anomalous diffusion and discuss how to select appropriate modelling and simulation paradigms based on some or all the following aspects: discrete, continuous, stochastic, delayed and complex spatial processes. © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions.