Background: There is a need for theoretically grounded and evidence-based interventions that enhance the use of research evidence in physical therapist practice. This paper and its companion paper introduce the Physical therapist-driven Education for Actionable Knowledge translation (PEAK) program, an educational program designed to promote physical therapists' integration of research evidence into clinical decision-making. The pedagogical foundations for the PEAK educational program include Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory and Malcolm Knowles's adult learning theory. Additionally, two complementary frameworks of knowledge translation, the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARiHS) and Knowledge to Action (KTA) Cycle, were used to inform the organizational elements of the program. Finally, the program design was influenced by evidence from previous attempts to facilitate the use of research in practice at the individual and organizational levels. Discussion. The 6-month PEAK program consisted of four consecutive and interdependent components. First, leadership support was secured and electronic resources were acquired and distributed to participants. Next, a two-day training workshop consisting of didactic and small group activities was conducted that addressed the five steps of evidence based practice. For five months following the workshop, participants worked in small groups to review and synthesize literature around a group-selected area of common clinical interest. Each group contributed to the generation of a "Best Practices List" - a list of locally generated, evidence-based, actionable behaviors relevant to the groups' clinical practice. Ultimately, participants agreed to implement the Best Practices List in their clinical practice. Summary. This, first of two companion papers, describes the underlying pedagogical theories, knowledge translation frameworks, and research evidence used to derive the PEAK program - an educational program designed to promote the use of research evidence to inform physical therapist practice. The four components of the program are described in detail. The companion paper reports the results of a mixed methods feasibility analysis of this complex educational intervention.