To describe individuals' expectations, motivation, and satisfaction before, during, and after rehabilitation for ACL reconstruction and to explore how these factors were associated with return to pre-injury sport activity at 1-year follow-up.Sixty-five individuals (34 males), median age 22 (15-45) years, scheduled for ACL reconstruction participated. Participants completed the International Knee Documentation Committee Subjective Knee Form (IKDC-SKF) and questions about expectations, satisfaction, and motivation pre-operatively and at 16 and 52 weeks after surgery.Prior to surgery, 86 % of participants stated that their goal was to return to their pre-injury sport activity. Those who had returned to their pre-injury sport activity at 52 weeks were more motivated during rehabilitation to return to their pre-injury activity level, more satisfied with their activity level and knee function at 52 weeks, and scored significantly higher on the IKDC-SKF [median 92.0 (range 66.7-100.0)] at 52 weeks, compared to those who had not returned [median 77.6 (range 50.6-97.7)].Prior to ACL reconstruction, most participants expected to return to their pre-injury activity level. Higher motivation during rehabilitation was associated with returning to the pre-injury sport activity. The participants who had returned to their pre-injury sport activity were more satisfied with their activity level and knee function 1 year after the ACL reconstruction. Facilitating motivation might be important to support individuals in achieving their participation goals after ACL reconstruction.Prospective cohort study, Level II.