BACKGROUND: To date, there is no comprehensive assessment of how therapeutic hypothermia and post-arrest care are being implemented clinically. At this stage in the translation of post-arrest science to clinical practice, this analysis is overdue. This study examines the first step of post-arrest care--the selection of patients for TH and post-arrest care. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review to search for all publicly available TH and post-arrest protocols. Observational data was reported and no statistical inferences were made. RESULTS: Notable variation was observed in the following selection criteria: total ischemic time and hemodynamic requirements. Additionally, only some of the criteria were evidence based. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the wide range and variety of patient selection criteria that are being used for implementation of post-cardiac arrest care. The consequences of this selection criteria variability are currently unmeasured and likely underestimated. Variability is likely to breed inefficiency. Some patients who could benefit do not get treated. Other patients get cooled, yet will never regain consciousness. This variability may be important when considering inter-hospital variation in post-arrest care and outcomes.