To identify goal setting approaches used with people with acquired brain injury (ABI) in the working age range.Database searches were conducted in Medline (via Ovid) (1960-May 2014), CINAHL (1982-May 2014), Cochrane Library (1996-May 2014) and PsycINFO (1840-May 2014). Systematic scoping review of databases identified studies that described or evaluated goal setting approaches, which were classified as informal or formal. Methodological quality appraisal was completed with all studies that evaluated a goal setting approach. Key practice principles were extracted from evaluation studies using a content analytic approach to identify key themes.Of the full text articles included (n = 86), 62 described a goal setting approach and 24 evaluated a goal setting approach. Formal goal setting approaches were used in 77% of studies. The most common practice principles extracted describe goal setting in ABI rehabilitation as being client-centred, collaborative, measurable and realistic and as incorporating proximal goals or providing a link to therapy.Use of formal goal setting approaches appears more prevalent in research studies compared with routine clinical practice. There is a strong theme in the literature that client-centredness and collaboration are necessary components of effective goal setting.