BACKGROUND: Virtual histology intravascular ultrasound (VH-IVUS) imaging is an innovative tool for the morphological evaluation of coronary atherosclerosis. Evidence for the effects of statin therapy on VH-IVUS parameters have been inconclusive. Consequently, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the impact of statin therapy on plaque volume and its composition using VH-IVUS. METHODS: The search included PubMed, Cochrane Library, Scopus and Embase (through 30 November 2014) to identify prospective studies investigating the effects of statin therapy on plaque volume and its composition using VH-IVUS. RESULTS: We identified nine studies with 16 statin treatment arms and 830 participants. There was a significant effect of statin therapy in reducing plaque volume (standardized mean difference (SMD): -0.137, 95 % confidence interval (CI): -0.255, -0.019; P = 0.023), external elastic membrane volume (SMD: -0.097, 95 % CI: -0.183, -0.011; P = 0.027) but not lumen volume (SMD: -0.025, 95 % CI: -0.110, +0.061; P = 0.574). There was a significant reduction in fibrous plaque volume (SMD: -0.129, 95 % CI: -0.255, -0.003; P = 0.045) and an increase of dense calcium volume (SMD: +0.229, 95 % CI: +0.008, +0.450; P = 0.043), while changes in fibro-fatty (SMD: -0.247, 95 % CI: -0.592, +0.098; P = 0.16) and necrotic core (SMD: +0.011, 95 % CI: -0.144, +0.165; P = 0.892) tissue volumes were not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis indicates a significant effect of statin therapy on plaque and external elastic membrane volumes and fibrous and dense calcium volumes. There was no effect on lumen volume, fibro-fatty and necrotic tissue volumes.