Considerable controversy exists regarding the associations of dietary patterns with the risk of all-cause, CVD and stroke mortality. Therefore, a meta-analysis was conducted to elucidate the potential associations between dietary patterns and the risk of all-cause, CVD and stroke mortality. The PubMed database was searched for prospective cohort studies on the associations between dietary patterns and the risk of all-cause, CVD and stroke mortality published until February 2014. Random-effects models were used to calculate the summary relative risk estimates (SRRE) based on the highest v. the lowest category of dietary pattern scores. Stratified analyses were conducted based on sex, geographical region, follow-up duration, and adjustment/non-adjustment for energy intake. A total of thirteen prospective cohort studies involving 338 787 participants were included in the meta-analysis. There was evidence of inverse associations between the prudent/healthy dietary pattern and the risk of all-cause (SRRE = 0·76, 95 % CI 0·68, 0·86) and CVD (SRRE = 0·81, 95 % CI 0·75, 0·87) mortality and an absence of association between this dietary pattern and stroke mortality (SRRE = 0·89, 95 % CI 0·77, 1·02). However, no significant associations were observed between the Western/unhealthy dietary pattern and the risk of all-cause (SRRE = 1·07, 95 % CI 0·96, 1·20), CVD (SRRE = 0·99, 95 % CI 0·91, 1·08) and stroke (SRRE = 0·94, 95 % CI 0·81, 1·10) mortality. In conclusion, the findings provide evidence that greater adherence to a prudent/healthy dietary pattern is associated with a lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality and not significantly associated with stroke mortality and that the Western/unhealthy dietary pattern is not associated with all-cause, CVD and stroke mortality. Further studies are required to confirm these findings.