Rotator cuff tears, a common source of shoulder pathology, are often the cause of debilitating shoulder pain, reduced shoulder function and compromised joint mechanics. The treatment, evaluation and management of this disease puts an annual financial burden of 3 billion US dollars on the US economy. Despite surgical advances, there is a high rate of recurrent tears ranging (20-70%) after surgical repair, particularly for chronic, large to massive cuff tears. The inability to obtain a high healing rate in these tears has fueled investigation in the use of extracellular matrix (ECM) derived materials as a scaffolds for rotator cuff tendon repair and regeneration. The present paper reviews the current state of knowledge regarding the mechanical and biological characteristics of commercially available ECM materials, delineates indications for their clinical use and suggests future directions in developing ECM scaffolds for rotator cuff repair.