High-protein diets are popular for weight management, but the health effects of such diets in diabetic persons are inconclusive. The aim of the present meta-analysis was to examine the effects of high-protein diets on body weight and metabolic risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes. We searched the PubMed and Cochrane Library databases for relevant randomised trials up to August 2012. Either a fixed- or a random-effects model was used to combine the net changes in each outcome from baseline to the end of the intervention. Overall, nine trials including a total of 418 diabetic patients met our inclusion criteria. The study duration ranged from 4 to 24 weeks. The actual intake of dietary protein ranged from 25 to 32 % of total energy in the intervention groups and from 15 to 20 % in the control groups. Compared with the control diets, high-protein diets resulted in more weight loss (pooled mean difference: − 2·08, 95 % CI − 3·25, − 0·90 kg). High-protein diets significantly decreased glycated Hb A1C (HbA1C) levels by 0·52 (95 % CI − 0·90, − 0·14) %, but did not affect the fasting blood glucose levels. There were no differences in lipid profiles. The pooled net changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure were − 3·13 (95 % CI − 6·58, 0·32) mmHg and − 1·86 (95 % CI − 4·26, 0·56) mmHg, respectively. However, two studies reported a large influence on weight loss and HbA1C levels, respectively. In summary, high-protein diets (within 6 months) may have some beneficial effects on weight loss, HbA1C levels and blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, further investigations are still required to draw a conclusion.