Electronic personal health record systems (PHRs) support patient centered healthcare by making medical records and other relevant information accessible to patients, thus assisting patients in health self-management. We reviewed the literature on PHRs including design, functionality, implementation, applications, outcomes, and benefits. We found that, because primary care physicians play a key role in patient health, PHRs are likely to be linked to physician electronic medical record systems, so PHR adoption is dependent on growth in electronic medical record adoption. Many PHR systems are physician-oriented, and do not include patient-oriented functionalities. These must be provided to support self-management and disease prevention if improvements in health outcomes are to be expected. Differences in patient motivation to use PHRs exist, but an overall low adoption rate is to be expected, except for the disabled, chronically ill, or caregivers for the elderly. Finally, trials of PHR effectiveness and sustainability for patient self-management are needed.