BACKGROUND:There is now compelling scientific evidence that increased levels of physical activity can bring wide-ranging health benefits. These benefits can extend beyond physical health and include other positive impacts relating to mental health and personal development. The sport and recreation sector is viewed as a priority area for increasing rates of physical activity. Participation rates have been shown to be lower in females, decline with age, and are reduced in lower socio-economic and minority groups. It is important to determine the most effective interventions that sporting organisations can use to increase participation. OBJECTIVES:To review all controlled evaluation studies of interventions organised through sporting settings to increase participation. SEARCH STRATEGY:We searched The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsyclNFO, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, Sociological Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts, and a number of freely-available online health promotion and sports-related databases. The internet was used extensively to search for studies and locate information generated by sporting bodies throughout the world. SELECTION CRITERIA:Types of studies: Controlled evaluation studies. No minimum follow-up required. Uncontrolled studies, meeting other inclusion criteria, were to be reported in an annex to the review. TYPES OF PARTICIPANTS:People of all ages. Types of interventions: Any intervention designed to increase active and/ or non-active participation in sport. These could include: mass media campaigns; information or education sessions; management or organisational change strategies; policy changes, for example to improve the socio-cultural environment to encourage people of specific age, gender or ethnicity to participate; changes to traditional or existing programs, for example club or association-initiated rule modification programs; provision of activities beyond traditional or existing programs, for example 'Come and Try' initiatives (teaser or taster programs); skill improvement programs; volunteer encouragement programs. Types of outcome measures: Change in the number of (active and non-active) participants in organised sport, change in status from non-participating to non-active or active participation, change in status from non-active to active participation. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:We assessed whether identified citations were controlled evaluation studies which investigated the use of interventions implemented in sporting settings to increase participation. Two reviewers independently inspected abstracts. We obtained full papers where necessary. As no controlled evaluation studies were located, no data collection or analysis was undertaken. No uncontrolled studies meeting other inclusion criteria were identified and therefore no annex is presented. MAIN RESULTS:Despite a thorough review of the published and unpublished literature, we were unable to locate any rigorous studies which tested the effects of interventions organised through sporting organisations to increase participation in sport. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:There is an absence of high quality evidence to support interventions designed and delivered by sporting organisations to increase participation in sport. Interventions funded and conducted in this area must be linked to a rigorous evaluation strategy in order to examine overall effectiveness, sociodemographic differentials in participation and cost-effectiveness of these strategies.