OBJECTIVE To summarize the most important criteria used in critical appraisal of publications about clinical audit by the review of the relevant English language literature. METHODS Electronic databases, including Medline, Science Direct, and Ingenta Select, and Internet search were used to find relevant English language publication between 1985 and 2005. Hand search and the reference lists search for publications were also applied. In addition, researchers were also contacted for publications. RESULTS The literature is surprisingly scarce about the critical appraisal of clinical audit publications. As a result hand search was as important as electronic search. The following three screening criteria can be used in order to critically appraise the scientific literature: (a) whether or not valid and relevant criteria and standards were used to evaluate clinical practice, (b) the criteria were used systematically on a representative sample of patients, and (c) the results are important and applicable (generalizable) in our practice. The publication is useful if it helps to improve the quality of our own clinical practice. CONCLUSION Critical appraisal criteria can be used to improve the quality of clinical audit, and disseminate the results of audit, as well as find high quality evidence for designing and implementing quality improvement initiatives.