Physical inactivity is a leading cause of premature death, disability and numerous chronic diseases. Minority and underserved populations in the United States and worldwide have a higher prevalence of physical inactivity affecting their morbidity and mortality rates. In the United States, African Americans are less physically active and have a higher proportion of many chronic diseases in comparison to Caucasians. This disparity needs to be well understood in order to design and implement effective interventions aimed at increasing physical activity levels among African Americans. In the present study, we conduct a systematic review (through 2010) of the qualitative literature pertaining to impediments and enablers to physical activity participation among African Americans. This review focuses on qualitative research due to its advantages in understanding attitudes and perceptions related to health behavior within the context of participants' natural environment. Findings are stratified by gender and age, to explore unique impediments and enablers based on age and sex and results are discussed within the socio-ecological model to account for the multi-level nature of factors affecting physical activity. Findings should be taken into account by researchers, program planners and policymakers when tailoring physical activity interventions to African American communities in the United States.