This meta-analysis was performed to assess the implementation effects of clinical pathways in patients withgastrointestinal cancer. A comprehensive search was conducted in the Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE,Web of Science and Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (from inception to May 2014). Selection of studies,assessing risk of bias and extracting data were performed by two reviewers independently. Outcomes wereanalyzed by fixed-effects and random-effects model meta-analysis and reported as mean difference (MD),standardized mean difference (SMD) and odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). The Jadadmethodological approach was used to assess the quality of included studies and the meta-analysis was conductedwith RevMan 5.1 software. Nine citations (eight trials) involving 642 patients were included. The aggregateresults showed that a shorter average length of stay [MD = -4.0; 95% CI (-5.1, -2.8); P < 0.00001] was observedwith the clinical pathways as compared with the usual care. A reduction in inpatient expenditure [SMD = -1.5;95% CI (-2.3, -0.7); P = 0.0001] was also associated with clinical pathways, along with higher patient satisfaction[OR = 4.9; 95% CI (2.2, 10.6); P < 0.0001]. Clinical pathways could improve the quality of care in patients withgastrointestinal cancer, as evidenced by a significant reduction in average length of stay, a decrease in inpatientexpenditure and an improvement in patient satisfaction. Therefore, indicators and mechanisms within clinicalpathways should be a focus in the future.