Non-invasive prenatal testing has been in clinical use for a decade; however, there is evidence that this technology will be more widely applied within the next few years. Guidance is therefore required to ensure that the procedure is offered in a way that is evidence based and ethically and clinically acceptable. We conducted a systematic review of the current relevant literature to ascertain the factors that should be considered when offering non-invasive prenatal testing in a clinical setting. We undertook a systematic search of relevant databases, journals and reference lists, and from an initial list of 298 potential papers, identified 11 that were directly relevant to the study. Original data were extracted and presented in a table, and the content of all papers was analysed and presented in narrative form. Four main themes emerged: perceived attributes of the test, regulation and ethical issues, non-invasive prenatal testing in practice and economic considerations. However, there was a basic difference in the approach of actual or potential service users, who were very positive about the benefits of the technology, compared with other research participants, who were concerned with the potential moral and ethical outcomes of using this testing method. Recommendations for the appropriate use of non-invasive prenatal testing are made. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.