BACKGROUND: Community ambulation is an important element of a rehabilitation training programme and its achievement is a goal shared by rehabilitation professionals and clients. The factors that influence a physiotherapist's or health professionals decision making around the preparation of a client for community ambulation and the factors that influence a client's decision to return to walking in their community are unclear. OBJECTIVE: To review the available literature about the factors that have influenced the reasoning and decision making of rehabilitation therapists and clients around the topic of ambulation in the community. METHOD: Three separate searches of the available literature were undertaken using Ovid, Cinahl, ProQuest, Medline and Ebscohost databases. Databases were searched from 1966 to October 2006.The first search explored the literature for factors that influence the clinical reasoning of rehabilitation therapists. The second search explored the literature for factors that influence client's decision to ambulate in the community. A third search was undertaken to explore the literature for the demands of community ambulation in rural communities. RESULTS: Very few studies were found that explored community ambulation in the context of clinical reasoning and decision making, the facilitators and barriers to a clients return to ambulation in their community or the demands of ambulation in a rural community. CONCLUSION: Consideration of the environment is key to the successful return to walking in the community of clients with mobility problems yet little literature has been found to guide physiotherapist's decision making about preparing a clients to return to walking in the community. An individual's participation in their society is also a result of the interaction between their personal characteristics and his or her environment. The influence of these characteristics may vary from one individual to another yet the factors that influence a person's decision to return to walking in their community after stroke remain unclear.