Global conservation efforts are increasingly focused on expanding the amount of permanently protected private land, with the aim of preserving biodiversity. These efforts are often constrained by financial resources, particularly where land acquisition is expensive, or where landowners are reluctant to enter into conservation agreements. Purchase–protect–resale (PPR) programs are used by conservation organizations in a number of countries to facilitate the purchase, resale, and protection of private land. We conducted the first systematic review of the literature on PPR and collated information on its use around the world. In total, we found that funds exceeding US$384 million were available for PPR, and over 684,000 ha have been protected to date. We identify the unique attributes of this approach and the challenges of its implementation, and discuss its potential for protecting land unsuitable for other conservation approaches. Our analysis highlights the importance of selecting appropriate properties, and we suggest that insights from the economics literature could help to improve the effectiveness of PPR programs.