The athletic hernia is an obscure condition of uncertain etiology commonly seen in soccer and rugby players. The pain is often debilitating and may place an athletic career at risk. Treatment failures are frustrating to the athlete and the physician. The anatomy involved, diagnostic criteria, and treatment modalities are inconsistently described in the medical, surgical and orthopaedic literature. There is no evidence-based consensus available to guide decision-making. We performed an overview of the anatomy and pathoanatomy and a systematic review of the literature to gain insight into the disease and its treatment. Most studies are Level IV. The most common operative finding is a deficient posterior wall of the inguinal canal, although other abdominal wall abnormalities are frequently found. Open and laparoscopic repairs produce excellent results, but the latter allows earlier return to play. Magnetic resonance imaging appears to have excellent diagnostic potential for athletic hernia. A multidisciplinary approach to groin pain in the athlete is recommended.