Platelets play a central role in hemostasis and wound healing. The latter is mediated by release of secretory proteins on platelet activation, which directly or indirectly influences virtually all aspects of the wound healing cascade. Studies in basic science have shown a dose-response relationship between the platelet concentration and levels of secretory proteins, as well as between platelet concentration and certain proliferative events of significance to the healing wound. Technologies to provide autologous platelet rich plasma to the repair site are now being used in a wide variety of clinical applications, with the majority of such studies suggesting a role in the surgeon's armamentarium. Little standardization in the field exists, which has made it difficult to fully evaluate the literature on the subject and unequivocally establish applications for which the technology truly has merit. This article presents fundamental background on platelet biology and the role of platelets in both hemostasis and wound healing, as well as methods of preparing, characterizing, and using platelet rich plasma, to provide the reader a foundation on which to critically evaluate prior studies and plan future work.