A review of the current literature shows that there is a lack of consensus regarding the treatment of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis in children and adolescents. Most of the views and recommendations provided in various reports are weakly supported by evidence. There is a limited amount of information about the natural history of the condition, making it difficult to compare the effectiveness of various conservative and operative treatments. This systematic review summarises the current knowledge on spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis and attempts to present a rational approach to the evaluation and management of this condition in children and adolescents.