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Medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction and repair continue to gain acceptance as viable treatment options for recurrent patellar instability in patients who wish to return to sports after surgery. Return-to-play guidelines with objective or subjective criteria for athletes after MPFL surgery, however, have not been uniformly defined.To determine whether a concise and objective protocol exists that may help athletes return to their sport more safely after MPFL surgery.Systematic review.The clinical evidence for return to play after MPFL reconstruction was evaluated through a systematic review of the literature. Studies that measured outcomes for isolated MPFL surgery with greater than a 12-month follow-up were included in our study. We analyzed each study for a return-to-play timeline, rehabilitation protocol, and any measurements used to determine a safe return to play after surgery.Fifty-three studies met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 1756 patients and 1838 knees. The most commonly cited rehabilitation guidelines included weightbearing restrictions and range of motion restrictions in 90.6% and 84.9% of studies, respectively. Thirty-five of 53 studies (66.0%) included an expected timeline for either return to play or return to full activity. Ten of 53 studies (18.9%) in our analysis included either objective or subjective criteria to determine return to activity within their rehabilitation protocol.Most studies in our analysis utilized time-based criteria for determining return to play after MPFL surgery, while only a minority utilized objective or subjective patient-centric criteria. Further investigation is needed to determine safe and effective guidelines for return to play after MPFL reconstruction and repair.