BACKGROUND Family caregiving is the crucial informal care resource to lessen the burdens associated with dementia. Research in this field has focused on reducing the caregiver's burden, but little attention has been given to promoting the positive aspects of caregiving. OBJECTIVES To conduct a systematic critical review of research on the nature of positive aspects of caregiving, and the factors predicting this phenomenon among family caregivers of dementia patients, with the ultimate purpose of gaining insights to explain how and why it emerges. REVIEW METHODS A systematic search of the literature was undertaken in the databases OvidMedline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science and Scopus, using the keywords 'care* AND Alzheimer OR dementia AND 'positive aspect' OR 'positive experience' OR 'positive perceptions' OR reward OR gain OR 'satisfaction with care*' OR 'care* satisfaction' OR benefit OR uplift OR meaning OR enjoyment OR pleasure OR growth OR hope OR gratification. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklists for qualitative and cohort studies were used to evaluate data quality. Narrative data synthesis was undertaken using the five-stage Whittermore and Knafl method. RESULTS A total of 3862 articles were identified, of which 41 were included in this review. The key findings are that positive aspects of caregiving among family caregivers of dementia patients form a multi-dimensional construct which covers four key domains: a sense of personal accomplishment and gratification, feelings of mutuality in a dyadic relationship, an increase of family cohesion and functionality, and a sense of personal growth and purpose in life. By integrating the findings about the nature and conditions predicting positive aspects of caregiving, the presence of three conditions was identified as promoting the emergence of such qualities i) personal and social affirmation of role fulfilment, ii) effective cognitive emotional regulation and iii) contexts which favour finding meaning in the caregiving process. CONCLUSION The findings of this review provide insight into catalysing the paradigm shift from 'reducing stress' to 'optimising positive experience' in developing caregiving support services for dementia, and may guide future empirical study to explain this unique dimension of caregiving experience.