Recent research has demonstrated how antiretrovirals (ARVs) could be effective in the prevention of sexually transmitted HIV. We review research on the acceptability of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP) for HIV prevention amongst potential users. We consider with whom, where and in what context this research has been conducted, how acceptability has been approached, and what research gaps remain. Findings from 33 studies show a lack of TasP research, PrEP studies which have focused largely on men who have sex with men (MSM) in a US context, and varied measures of acceptability. In order to identify when, where and for whom PrEP and TasP would be most appropriate and effective, research is needed in five areas: acceptability of TasP to people living with HIV; motivation for PrEP use and adherence; current perceptions and management of risk; the impact of broader social and structural factors; and consistent definition and operationalisation of acceptability which moves beyond adherence.