Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been suggested as a risk factor for carotid atherosclerosis. The present meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the association between OSA and carotid intima–media thickness (CIMT). Eighteen studies comparing CIMT of patients with OSA versus non-OSA patients were included. Quantitative data synthesis was used to pool weighted standardized difference in means (SMD) of CIMT in a random-effects model. Compared to healthy controls, patients with OSA had a significantly higher CIMT (SMD: 0.881; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.647-1.115; P < .001). Due to the great heterogeneity, a subgroup analysis was conducted based on the study design. The pooled SMD of CIMT between patients with OSA and healthy controls were 0.810 (95% CI: 0.676-0.943; P < .001) and 1.008 (95% CI: 0.506-1.510; P < .001) in matched and unmatched group, respectively. Moreover, the correlation of apnea–hypopnea index and CIMT was moderate (r = .389; 95% CI: 0.315-0.459; P < .001). After adjustment for several major confounders, OSA is an independent risk factor for CIMT. These findings remind clinicians to screen for cardiovascular diseases in patients with OSA.