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Some trials have been conducted to compare long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) + long-acting beta agonist (LABA) versus LABA + inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but no meta-analysis were reported.Two investigators independently searched for eligible articles using the PubMed, Web of Science and Cochrane databases. Articles in authors' reference files were also regarded as candidates. The eligibility criteria for the current meta-analysis were original trials written in English comparing the impact of LAMA + LABA and LABA + ICS for COPD patients. A pooled value for the continuous value was calculated using the genetic inverse variance method for mean difference. Incidence of events was evaluated using the odds ratio (OR). Minimal clinically important difference were 50 mL for forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), four points for St George Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and one point for transition dyspnoea index (TDI).We included seven randomized controlled trials and one cross-over trial with follow-up period of 6–26 weeks. Compared with LABA + ICS, LAMA + LABA led to significantly greater improvements of trough FEV1 by 71 (95% CI: 48–95) mL, TDI by 0.38 points (95% CI: 0.17–0.58), less exacerbations with an OR of 0.77 (95% CI: 0.62–0.96) and less pneumonia with an OR of 0.28 (95% CI: 0.12–0.68). Frequencies of any adverse event, serious adverse event, adverse event leading to discontinuation, all-cause death and change of total score of SGRQ were not different in both arms. LAMA + LABA might be a better option for treating COPD than LABA + ICS.