objective: to identify the theories and theoretical models used in the articles published by national school of public health journal of the university of antioquia, during the period 2000-2004. methods: in january of 2005 all issues published from 2000 to 2004 were analyzed. a researcher with experience in theories and models analyzed all articles in every issue using a questionnaire to identify theoretical references. results: eleven issues of the journal were revised, ten of periodical publication and one special issue. 103 articles were identified: 46 research studies, 35 revisions of specific topics and 22 opinion articles, different topics were identified such as health system, epidemiology, and psychological and social aspects. although 35 (34%) of the articles involved 50 theories and models as theoretical framework, only 11 (10%) showed an appropriate methodological and scientific use of them according to adopted criteria. conclusions: there was a limited use of theories and models in the articles published in the journal during 2000-2004; there was also a low rigor in using this theories and models to focus the theme, methodology and analysis of the studied topic.