Rotator cuff disease of the shoulder, a common condition, is often incapacitating. Whether nonsurgical or surgical, successful management of rotator cuff disease is dependent on appropriate rehabilitation. Numerous rehabilitation protocols for the management of rotator cuff disease are based primarily on anecdotal clinical observation. The available literature on shoulder rehabilitation, in conjunction with clinical observation that takes into consideration the underlying tissue quality and structural integrity of the rotator cuff, can be compiled into a set of rehabilitation guidelines. The four phases of rehabilitation begin with maintaining and protecting the repair in the immediate postoperative period, followed by progression from early passive range of motion through return to preoperative levels of function.