Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is associated with a number of costly disability-related outcomes. It has received increasing attention from qualitative researchers studying its consequences for personal, social, and health care experiences. As research questions and methods diversify, there is a growing need to integrate findings emerging from these studies. A meta-ethnography was carried out to synthesise the findings of 38 separate qualitative articles published on the subjective experience of CLBP between 1994 and 2011. Studies were identified following a literature search and quality appraisal. Four themes were proposed after a process of translating the meaning of text extracts from the findings sections across all the articles. The themes referred to the undermining influence of pain, its disempowering impact on all levels, unsatisfying relationships with health care professionals, and learning to live with the pain. The findings are dominated by wide-ranging distress and loss but also acknowledge self-determination and resilience. Implications of the meta-ethnography for clinicians and future qualitative research are outlined, including the need to study relatively unexamined facets of subjective experience such as illness trajectory and social identity.