Over recent decades, the use of portfolios in medical education has evolved, and is being applied in undergraduate and postgraduate programs worldwide. Portfolios, as a learning process and method of documenting and assessing learning, is supported as a valuable tool by adult learning theories that stress the need for learners to be self-directed and to engage in experiential learning. Thoughtfully implemented, a portfolio provides learning experiences unequaled by any single learning tool. The credibility (validity) and dependability (reliability) of assessment through portfolios have been questioned owing to its subjective nature; however, methods to safeguard these features have been described in the literature. This paper discusses some of this literature, with particular attention to the role of portfolios in relation to self-reflective learning, provides an overview of current use of portfolios in undergraduate medical education in Saudi Arabia, and proposes research-based guidelines for its implementation and other similar contexts.