The use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is expanding to numerous medical fields, including orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. The popularity of this new treatment option has prompted a rapid increase in research endeavors; however, the differences in application technique and the composition of PRP have made it difficult to compare results or make any firm conclusions regarding efficacy. The purpose of this article is twofold. First, to recommend details that should be provided in basic science and clinical PRP studies to allow meaningful comparisons between studies which may lead to a better understanding of efficacy. Second, to provide an understanding of the different PRP preparations and their clinical relevance. There are biochemical rationales for the use of PRP because it addresses several aspects of the healing process, including cell proliferation and tissue matrix regeneration, inflammation, nociception, infection, and hemostasis, all of which will be addressed. Given the current understanding of the importance the composition of PRP plays in tissue regeneration, it is likely that our future understanding of PRP will dictate 'customizing' the PRP preparation to the specific pathology of interest. The potential complications following PRP use are minor, and thus it appears to be a safe treatment option with a variety of potentially beneficial effects to injured musculoskeletal tissues.