The aim of this meta-analysis was to provide a comprehensive overview of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 subtypes and to investigate temporal and geographical trends of the HIV-1 epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China. Chinese and English articles published between January 2007 and December 2017 were systematically searched. Pooled HIV-1 prevalence was calculated, and its stability was analysed using sensitivity analysis. Subgroups were based on study time period, sampling area and prevalence. Publication bias was measured using Funnel plot and Egger's test. A total of 68 independent studies that included HIV-1 molecular investigations were eligible for meta-analysis. Circulating recombinant form (CRF) 01_AE (57.36%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 53.76–60.92) was confirmed as the most prevalent HIV-1 subtype among MSM in China. Subgroup analysis for time period found that CRF01_AE steadily increased prior to 2012 but decreased during 2012–2016. Further whereas CRF07_BC increased over time, B/B′ decreased over time. CRF55_01B has increased in recent years, with higher pooled estimated rate in Guangdong (12.22%, 95% CI 10.34–13.17) and Fujian (8.65%, 95% CI 4.98–13.17) provinces. The distribution of HIV-1 subtypes among MSM in China has changed across different regions and periods. HIV-1 strains in MSM are becoming more complex. Long-term molecular monitoring in this population remains necessary for HIV-1 epidemic control and prevention.