Recent scientific advances in the treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) relating to education, exercise, weight control and passive non-pharmacological and non-surgical treatments such as manual therapy, orthoses/orthotics and other aids are described.A systematic literature search was performed in Medline from July 2011 to 10 April 2012 using the terms 'osteoarthritis, knee', 'osteoarthritis, hip' rehabilitation, physical therapy, exercise therapy and preoperative intervention; both as text words and as MeSH terms where possible. Trials evaluating rehabilitation interventions were included if they were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or systematic reviews. Outcome papers were identified by combining the initial search with the terms 'outcome', 'measure*', 'valid*', 'reliabil*' or 'responsiveness'. Outcome studies were included if they contributed methodologically to advancing outcome measurement.The literature search identified 550 potentially relevant papers. Seventeen RCTs on rehabilitation were selected and the results from these were supported by six systematic reviews. Sixteen outcomes papers were considered relevant, but did not add significantly to current knowledge about outcome measures in OA and so, were not included.The current research focus on non-pharmacological and non-surgical treatments for hip and/or knee OA, when combined in systematic reviews, is improving the available evidence to identify best practice treatment. Education, exercise and weight loss are effective in the long term and supported as cost-effective first-line treatments.