The parallel track model is one of the several models that are used in health promotion programmes that focus on community empowerment. It is unique in that it explicitly incorporates an empowerment approach with a top-down health programme. Since its development in 1999–2000 the model has been used in various health programmes in both developed and developing countries. The aim of this review is to examine the nature and extent of the application of this model and its contribution to promoting health. A review of the literature published between 2000 and 2011 was conducted. Nine results matched the inclusion criteria and revealed that the model has been mostly applied to disadvantaged communities to address health determinants, such as poverty and health literacy. This review found that the model had a positive impact on specific health outcomes such as health literacy and community capacity. We concluded that the parallel track model has the most potential for building capacity for community health promotion and appears to be the least useful for interventions focusing on health behaviour change within a limited time frame.