Advanced gravitational wave detectors, currently under construction, are expected to directly observe gravitational wave signals of astrophysical origin. The Einstein Telescope (ET), a third-generation gravitational wave detector, has been proposed in order to fully open up the emerging field of gravitational wave astronomy. In this paper we describe sensitivity models for ET and investigate potential limits imposed by fundamental noise sources. A special focus is set on evaluating the frequency band below 10 Hz where a complex mixture of seismic, gravity gradient, suspension thermal and radiation pressure noise dominates. We develop the most accurate sensitivity model, referred to as ET-D, for a third-generation detector so far, including the most relevant fundamental noise contributions. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd.