A meta-analysis was undertaken to determine the effects of surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis on pain and disability. Seventy-four journal articles met inclusion criteria and were independently reviewed by two readers. On average, 64% of patients treated surgically for lumbar spinal stenosis were reported to have good-to-excellent outcomes. However, there was wide variation across studies in the percentage with good outcomes. Few patient characteristics were found to predict outcome. Major deficits in study design, analysis, and reporting were common, and these precluded firm conclusions.