Background: More and more adults in their fifties and sixties are confronted with the need to support their ageing parents. Although many aspects of filial caregiving have been researched, a well-documented and comprehensive overview of the caregiving experience is lacking. Aim: This study aims for a better understanding of the caregiving experience of adult children by generating an overview of main themes in international research. Method: A literature review of qualitative studies, focusing on the experiences of adult children caring for their ageing parents, was performed. The electronic EBSCO databases Academic Search Premier, CINAHL and PsycINFO, and Google Scholar were searched to identify relevant qualitative studies published between 2000 and 2017. The 'SPIDER' eligibility criteria directed the approach. The quality of studies included was screened with the assessment sheet designed by Hawker and colleagues. The experiences reported were analysed and themes were synthesized. Ethical consideration: Ethical requirements were respected in every phase of the research process. Findings: Nineteen qualitative studies met the inclusion criteria. The quality of the relationship with the parent appears to be an important determinant of the children's caregiving experience. Within this context, three themes were found: caregiving as an emotional rollercoaster, a normatively demanding experience and an opportunity for personal development. Discussion: Children caring for their ageing parents have to deal with a wide range of contradicting and conflicting norms and values. Implications for healthcare professionals and future research have been discussed. Conclusion: Caring for ageing parents is a continuous quest for giving the best possible care and living up to one's personal values, within the context of the parent's declining health. Professionals who support filial caregivers should address not only practical responsibilities but also the normative questions and moral considerations caregivers are dealing with.