Background: The optimal therapeutic approach for adult craniopharyngioma remains controversial. Some advocate for gross total resection (GTR), while others support subtotal resection followed by adjuvant radiotherapy (STR + XRT). Methods: MEDLINE (1946 to July 1st 2016) and EMBASE (1980 to June 30th 2016) were systematically reviewed. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline was followed. At our institution, from 1975 to 2013, 33 patients were treated with initial surgical resection for adult onset craniopharyngioma. 22 patients were included in the present case series. Results: Eligible studies (n=21) were identified from the literature in addition to a case series of our institutional experience. Three groups were available for analysis: GTR, STR + XRT, and STR. The rates of recurrence were 17 %, 27 % and 45%, respectively. This differs from childhood population. The difference in risk of recurrence after GTR vs. STR + XRT did not reach significance (OR: 0.63, 95% confidence interval: 0.33-1.24, P=0.18). This maybe because of low pooled sample size (n=99) who underwent STR+XRT. Conclusions: This is the first and largest meta-analysis examining rate of recurrence in adult craniopharyngioma. Thus, when safe and feasible, a goal of gross total resection should be favored. Each patient should be considered on a case-by-case basis.