Managers of agro-ecosystems trade off food production and livelihood strategies against environmental services. They need tools to prospect a wide range of external conditions. Integrated simulation models allow stakeholders to discuss the plausible behaviour of agro-ecosystems and to evaluate dynamic trade-offs, as a basis for planning and policy making in agriculture and natural resource management. However, simulation models need to gain stakeholders? acceptance before they will be utilized. Gaining stakeholders? acceptance likely requires salience, credibility and legitimacy. We surveyed the perceptions and expectations of 122 potential model users in four countries, prioritizing these model attributes. A possible shift in user perception was assessed during a participatory model evaluation of a resource management model (FALLOW) for post-tsunami development in West Aceh (Indonesia). Potential model users, comprising natural resource managers, policy makers, lecturers and scientists, ranked salience as the most important characteristic for an integrated simulation model, followed by credibility and legitimacy. Model users? occupation, prior exposure and interest in using a simulation model did not have a statistically significant influence on users? perceptions of model attributes.