The use of robots in orthopaedic surgery is an emerging field that is gaining momentum. It has the potential for significant improvements in surgical planning, accuracy of component implantation and patient safety. Advocates of robot-assisted systems describe better patient outcomes through improved pre-operative planning and enhanced execution of surgery. However, costs, limited availability, a lack of evidence regarding the efficiency and safety of such systems and an absence of long-term high-impact studies have restricted the widespread implementation of these systems. We have reviewed the literature on the efficacy, safety and current understanding of the use of robotics in orthopaedics.