Field-based team sports, such as soccer, rugby and hockey are popular worldwide. There have been many studies that have investigated the physiology of these sports, especially soccer. However, some fitness components of these field-based team sports are poorly understood. In particular, repeated-sprint ability (RSA) is one area that has received relatively little research attention until recent times. Historically, it has been difficult to investigate the nature of RSA, because of the unpredictability of player movements performed during field-based team sports. However, with improvements in technology, time-motion analysis has allowed researchers to document the detailed movement patterns of team-sport athletes. Studies that have published time-motion analysis during competition, in general, have reported the mean distance and duration of sprints during field-based team sports to be between 10-20 m and 2-3 seconds, respectively. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these studies have not reported the specific movement patterns of RSA, which is proposed as an important fitness component of team sports. Furthermore, there have been few studies that have investigated the physiological requirements of one-off, short-duration sprinting and repeated sprints (<10 seconds duration) that is specific to field-based team sports. This review examines the limited data concerning the metabolic changes occurring during this type of exercise, such as energy system contribution, adenosine triphosphate depletion and resynthesis, phosphocreatine degradation and resynthesis, glycolysis and glycogenolysis, and purine nucleotide loss. Assessment of RSA, as a training and research tool, is also discussed.