Context Gender is increasingly regarded as an important factor in doctor-patient communication education. This review aims to assess if and how gender is addressed by current assessment instruments for communication skills in medical education. Methods In 2009 at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, an online search was conducted in the bibliographic databases PubMed, PsycINFO and ERIC for references about communication skills assessment instruments designed to be completed by trained faculty staff and used in medical education. The search strategy used the following search terms: 'consultation skills'; 'doctor-patient communication'; 'physician-patient relations'; 'medical education'; 'instruments'; 'measurement', and 'assessment'. Papers published between January 1999 and June 2009 were included. The assessment instruments identified were analysed for gender-specific content. Results The search yielded 21 communication skills assessment instruments. Only two of the 17 checklists obtained explicitly considered gender as a communication-related issue. Only six of 21 manuals considered gender in any way and none gave specific details to explain which aspects of communication behaviour should be assessed with regard to gender. Conclusions Very few communication assessment instruments in medical education focus on gender. Nevertheless, interest exists in using gender in communication skills assessment. The criteria for and purpose of assessing gender in communication skills in medical education are yet to be clarified.