Background Oesophageal dilation is one of the most effective options in the management of symptoms of eosinophilic oesophagitis (EoE). However, earlier reports described an increased rate of complications. Aim To perform a meta-analysis of population-based studies of the risks associated with dilation and the clinical efficacy and duration of response to dilation in EoE. Methods Using MEDLINE and EMBASE, a systematic search was performed for published articles since 1977 describing cohort or randomised controlled trials of dilation in EoE. Summary estimates, including 95% confidence interval (CI), were calculated for the occurrence of complications associated with dilations (perforations, haemorrhage, chest pain, lacerations) and percentage of patients with symptom improvement following dilation. Heterogeneity was calculated using the I2 statistic. Results The search resulted in 232 references, of which 9 studies were included in the final analysis. The studies described 860 EoE patients, of whom 525 patients underwent at least one oesophageal dilation and a total of 992 dilations. There were three cases of perforation (95% CI 0-0.9%, I2 0%) and one haemorrhage (95% CI 0-0.8%, I2 0%). Six studies reported postprocedural chest pain in 2% of cases (95% CI 1-3, I2 53%). Clinical improvement from dilation occurred in 75% of patients (95% CI 58-93%, I2 86%). Conclusions Dilation in patients with eosinophilic oesophagitis is a safe procedure with a low rate of serious complications (<1%), and seems to result in at least a short-term improvement of symptoms in the majority of patients.