This systematic review assessed the effectiveness of parental presence for children undergoing surgical or diagnostic procedures under general anaesthesia (such as bronchoscopy, laryngoscopy and laparoscopy). Randomized and quasi randomized trials with healthy children scheduled for elective diagnostic and surgical procedures under general anaesthesia (age range 0-16years) where the intervention was parental presence at anaesthesia induction were included. A comprehensive literature search was conducted using electronic databases and the reference lists of included studies. The Cochrane collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias was used for assessment of risk of bias. The Review Manager software was used to analyse and synthesize data. A random-effect meta-analysis was used when there was evidence of clinical and/or statistical heterogeneity. Of the 102 citations identified, nine trials involving 1021 children were eligible for inclusion. Only four were sufficient to be included in the meta-analysis. There was no statistically significant difference on average in the level of anxiety in children and their parents either at separation or at induction between children allocated to parental presence and those allocated to no presence, premedication or parental presence plus premedication groups. Significant debate still surrounds this issue, and future trials should focus on the use of reliable and validated tools in assessing outcome measures.