Evidence-based practice involves the use of evidence from systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials, but the extent of this evidence in physiotherapy has not previously been surveyed. The aim of this survey is to describe the quantity and quality of randomised controlled trials and the quantity of systematic reviews relevant to physiotherapy. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) was searched. The quality of trials was assessed with the PEDro scale. The search identified a total of 2,376 randomised controlled trials and 332 systematic reviews. The first trial was published in 1955 and the first review was published in 1982. Since that time, the number of trials and reviews has grown exponentially. The mean PEDro quality score has increased from 2.8 in trials published between 1955 and 1959 to 5.0 for trials published between 1995 and 1999. There is a substantial body of evidence about the effects of physiotherapy. However, there remains scope for improvements in the quality of the conduct and reporting of clinical trials.