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Increased expression of the homeobox (HOX) transcript antisense RNA (HOTAIR) has been reported in multiple types of malignancies and enhances the proliferation and migration of cancer cells. However, the association between HOTAIR expression and tumor progression and prognosis remains controversial. We performed a meta-analysis to clarify the association between the expression of HOTAIR and the clinicopathological features and prognosis in different cancers.A systematic search of the PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, and Ovid databases was conducted, up to September 2016, for eligible studies involving HOTAIR expression and malignancies. The odds ratios (ORs), hazard ratios (HRs), and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using fixed- or random-effect models. Any publication bias was evaluated using Begg and Egger tests, and adjusted using the trim and fill method if a bias existed.A total of 4116 patients from 44 studies were included in our meta-analysis. The results showed that high HOTAIR expression was associated with an advanced clinical tumor stage (OR = 3.90, 95% CI = 3.02–5.03, P < .001), lymph node metastasis (OR = 3.11, 95% CI = 2.15–4.49, P < .001), poor differentiation of the tumor (OR = 1.56, 95% CI = 1.01–2.41, P = .03), and worse prognosis (HR = 2.16, 95% CI = 1.73–2.69, P < .001) in different cancer types. HOTAIR expression was more predictive in monitoring the clinical tumor stage of patients and there was no significant heterogeneity or publication bias found in the analysis.Our meta-analysis suggests that HOTAIR is positively correlated with tumor development and negatively correlated with clinical outcome. Thus, an increase in HOTAIR expression may be a potential biomarker for tumor progression and evaluation of prognosis.