The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of life of the empty nest elderly in China using meta-analytic techniques. Electronic databases were searched for studies concerning the quality of life of the empty nest elderly published before December 2011. Pooled weighted mean difference (WMD) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) were estimated with fixed and random effect models. Subgroup analyses, sensitivity analyses and publication bias were also performed. Ten studies (6948 empty nesters and 4560 non-empty nesters) were included in this meta-analysis. Vitality (WMD ?1.946; 95% CI ?3.183 to ?0.708), role emotional (WMD ?6.084; 95% CI ?8.545 to ?3.623) and mental health (WMD ?2.606; 95% CI ?3.964 to ?1.249) were statistically significantly low in the empty nest elderly whereas physical functioning, role physical, bodily pain, general health, and social functioning showed no statistical significance. Subgroup analyses showed a statistical significance with WMD of role emotional and mental health in urban area, that of role physical, bodily pain, vitality, role emotional and mental health in rural area, and that of vitality, social functioning, role emotional and mental health in mix area. This meta-analysis indicated that among eight dimensions of the Short Form 36-Item Health Survey (SF-36), only vitality, role emotional and mental health (mental components) were statistically significantly low in the empty nest elderly. More studies are needed to confirm this finding.