This article systematically reviews epidemiological studies on sports injury from 1977 to 2005 in which ankle injury was included. A total of 227 studies reporting injury pattern in 70 sports from 38 countries were included. A total of 201,600 patients were included, with 32,509 ankle injuries. Ankle injury information was available from 14,098 patients, with 11 847 ankle sprains. Results show that the ankle was the most common injured body site in 24 of 70 included sports, especially in aeroball, wall climbing, indoor volleyball, mountaineering, netball and field events in track and field. Ankle sprain was the major ankle injury in 33 of 43 sports, especially in Australian football, field hockey, handball, orienteering, scooter and squash. In sports injuries throughout the countries studied, the ankle was the second most common injured body site after the knee, and ankle sprain was the most common type of ankle injury. The incidence of ankle injury and ankle sprain was high in court games and team sports, such as rugby, soccer, volleyball, handball and basketball. This systematic review provides a summary of the epidemiology of ankle injury in sports.