Background: Self-monitoring is increasingly recommended as a method of managing cardiovascular disease. However, the design, implementation and reproducibility of the self-monitoring interventions appear to vary considerably. We examined the interventions included in systematic reviews of self-monitoring for four clinical problems that increase cardiovascular disease risk. Methods. We searched Medline and Cochrane databases for systematic reviews of self-monitoring for: heart failure, oral anticoagulation therapy, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. We extracted data using a pre-specified template for the identifiable components of the interventions for each disease. Data was also extracted on the theoretical basis of the education provided, the rationale given for the self-monitoring regime adopted and the compliance with the self-monitoring regime by the patients. Results. From 52 randomized controlled trials (10,388 patients) we identified four main components in self-monitoring interventions: education, self-measurement, adjustment/adherence and contact with health professionals. Considerable variation in these components occurred across trials and conditions, and often components were poorly described. Few trials gave evidence-based rationales for the components included and self-measurement regimes adopted. Conclusions. The components of self-monitoring interventions are not well defined despite current guidelines for self-monitoring in cardiovascular disease management. Few trials gave evidence-based rationales for the components included and self-measurement regimes adopted. We propose a checklist of factors to be considered in the design of self-monitoring interventions which may aid in the provision of an evidence-based rationale for each component as well as increase the reproducibility of effective interventions for clinicians and researchers.