The Ki-67 antigen is used to evaluate the proliferative activity of breast cancer (BC); however, Ki-67's role as a prognostic marker in BC is still undefined. In order to better define the prognostic value of Ki-67/MIB-1, we performed a meta-analysis of studies that evaluated the impact of Ki-67/MIB-1 on disease-free survival (DFS) and/or on overall survival (OS) in early BC. Sixty-eight studies were identified and 46 studies including 12 155 patients were evaluable for our meta-analysis; 38 studies were evaluable for the aggregation of results for DFS, and 35 studies for OS. Patients were considered to present positive tumours for the expression of Ki-67/MIB-1 according to the cut-off points defined by the authors. Ki-67/MIB-1 positivity is associated with higher probability of relapse in all patients (HR=1.93 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.74–2.14); P<0.001), in node-negative patients (HR=2.31 (95% CI: 1.83–2.92); P<0.001) and in node-positive patients (HR=1.59 (95% CI: 1.35–1.87); P<0.001). Furthermore, Ki-67/MIB-1 positivity is associated with worse survival in all patients (HR=1.95 (95% CI: 1.70–2.24; P<0.001)), node-negative patients (HR=2.54 (95% CI: 1.65–3.91); P<0.001) and node-positive patients (HR=2.33 (95% CI: 1.83–2.95); P<0.001). Our meta-analysis suggests that Ki-67/MIB-1 positivity confers a higher risk of relapse and a worse survival in patients with early BC.