© 2014 Hodgson et al.; licensee BioMed Central. Introduction: The aim of this study was to develop consensus recommendations on safety parameters for mobilizing adult, mechanically ventilated, intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Methods: A systematic literature review was followed by a meeting of 23 multidisciplinary ICU experts to seek consensus regarding the safe mobilization of mechanically ventilated patients. Results: Safety considerations were summarized in four categories: respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological and other. Consensus was achieved on all criteria for safe mobilization, with the exception being levels of vasoactive agents. Intubation via an endotracheal tube was not a contraindication to early mobilization and a fraction of inspired oxygen less than 0.6 with a percutaneous oxygen saturation more than 90% and a respiratory rate less than 30 breaths/minute were considered safe criteria for in- and out-of-bed mobilization if there were no other contraindications. At an international meeting, 94 multidisciplinary ICU clinicians concurred with the proposed recommendations. Conclusion: Consensus recommendations regarding safety criteria for mobilization of adult, mechanically ventilated patients in the ICU have the potential to guide ICU rehabilitation whilst minimizing the risk of adverse events.