Background: The implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a life saving device for individuals with life threatening ventricular arrhythmias. There is no doubt that it is a cost effective therapy in various congenital and acquired arrhythmogenic disorders. Nevertheless, shock delivery may be painful and frightening which causes psychological distress and deterioration of perceived quality of life. Methods: A systematic meta-analysis on studies reporting quality of life in patients implanted with ICDs was done using professional databases. Related articles and references of the relevant articles were also searched for suitable studies. Results: Thirty studies with a total of 3412 patients on implantable defibrillators were identified. Five of them were large randomised studies with a total of 1680 patients, while 25 were non-randomised studies. Medical Outcome Study 36-item Short Form health survey (SF - 36) was the most common instrument used for assessment of quality of life. Only one of the 5 major randomised trial reported worsening of quality of life after implantation of a defibrillator. In the subgroup of patients receiving shocks, three out of the five trials reported worsening of quality of life. Summary: Most of the randomised studies showed either neutral or better quality of life in patients on implantable defibrillators. In the subset of patients receiving shocks, worsening of quality of life was found in most randomised studies. Therefore, activation of antitachycardia pacing should be performed in every ICD-patient in order to miminze painful shocks and consequent deterioration of quality of life.