Analyses of climate adaptation seldom rely on the conceptual toolbox of institutional economics. Yet articles addressing institutions make up a large portion of the climate adaptation literature. With a wealth of institutionally relevant knowledge in the adaptation literature, organizing such knowledge in institutionally meaningful ways can advance the present understanding of the link between institutions and adaptation. Knowing which aspects of this link are well researched, and where in contrast research gaps lie, can provide guidance to institutional economists interested in adaptation. We contribute to this through a systematic review of the adaptation literature, assessing the consideration adaptation scholars give to different elements of the Institutional Analysis and Development framework. Results show a strong focus on collective choice and on adaptation by public actors, with an emphasis on rules in use, social interactions and, to a lesser extent, attributes of the community. Research gaps rather encompass operational and constitutional choice, private adaptation, physical interactions and biophysical conditions.