Several rehabilitation programmes are available for individuals after lumbar disc surgery. To determine whether active rehabilitation after lumbar disc surgery is more effective than no treatment, and to describe in the content, duration and intensity of the rehabilitation programmes included in this review, and for none of them was high- or moderate-quality evidence identified. Exercise programmes starting four to six weeks postsurgery seem to lead to a faster decrease in pain and disability than no treatment, with small to medium effect sizes, and high-intensity exercise programmes seem to lead to a slightly faster decrease in pain and disability than is seen with low-intensity programmes, but the overall quality of the evidence is only low to very low. No significant differences were noted between supervised and home exercise programmes for pain relief, disability or global perceived effect. None of the trials reported an increase in reoperation rate after first-time lumbar surgery. High-quality randomised controlled trials are strongly needed.