Small randomized trials have demonstrated that radial access reduces access site complications compared to a femoral approach. The objective of this meta-analysis was to determine if radial access reduces major bleeding and as a result can reduce death and ischemic events compared to femoral access. MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL were searched from 1980 to April 2008. Relevant conference abstracts from 2005 to April 2008 were searched. Randomized trials comparing radial versus femoral access coronary angiography or intervention that reported major bleeding, death, myocardial infarction, and procedural or fluoroscopy time were included. A fixed-effects model was used with a random effects for sensitivity analysis. Radial access reduced major bleeding by 73% compared to femoral access (0.05% vs 2.3%, OR 0.27 [95% CI 0.16, 0.45], P < .001). There was a trend for reductions in the composite of death, myocardial infarction, or stroke (2.5% vs 3.8%, OR 0.71 [95% CI 0.49-1.01], P = .058) as well as death (1.2% vs 1.8% OR 0.74 [95% CI 0.42-1.30], P = .29). There was a trend for higher rate of inability to the cross lesion with wire, balloon, or stent during percutaneous coronary intervention with radial access (4.7% vs 3.4% OR 1.29 [95% CI 0.87, 1.94], P = .21). Radial access reduced hospital stay by 0.4 days (95% CI 0.2-0.5, P = .0001). Radial access reduced major bleeding and there was a corresponding trend for reduction in ischemic events compared to femoral access. Large randomized trials are needed to confirm the benefit of radial access on death and ischemic events.