Stellar populations carry information about the formation of galaxies and their evolution up to the present epoch. A wealth of observational data are available nowadays, which are analysed with stellar population models in order to obtain key properties such as ages, star formation histories, stellar masses. Differences in the models and/or in the assumptions regarding the star formation history affect the derived properties as much as differences in the data. I shall review the interpretation of high-redshift galaxy data from a model perspective. While data quality dominates galaxy analysis at the highest possible redshifts (z > 5), population modelling effects play the major part at lower redshifts. In particular, I discuss the cases of both star-forming galaxies at the peak of the cosmic star formation history as well as passive galaxies at redshift below 1 that are often used as cosmological probes. Remarks on the bridge between low and high-z massive galaxies conclude the contribution.