We updated our previous systematic review of the effect of supplemental calcium on blood pressure. We extended our previous searches on MEDLINE and EMBASE to May 1997 and examined citations from relevant articles. We contacted the authors of eligible trials to ensure the accuracy and completeness of data, and to identify unpublished trials. We included any study in which investigators randomized hypertensive or normotensive people to calcium supplementation or alternative therapy and measured blood pressure for at least 2 weeks. In addition to 32 trials included in the prior metaanalysis, 10 new trials contributed to this metaanalysis. Two pairs of independent reviewers abstracted data and assessed the validity of the study data according to six quality criteria. We calculated the differences in blood pressure change between the calcium supplementation and control groups and pooled the estimates with each trial weighted with the inverse of the variance using a random effects model. The predictors of blood pressure reduction that we examined included method of supplementation, baseline blood pressure, and the methodologic quality of the studies. The pooled analysis shows a reduction in systolic blood pressure of -1.44 mm Hg (95% confidence interval -2.20 to -0.68; P < .001) and in diastolic blood pressure of -0.84 mm Hg (95% confidence interval -1.44 to -0.24; P < .001). We found statistically significant heterogeneity of results across trials (P < or = .02), which persisted when we looked at the nondietary trials alone, but not when we restricted our analysis to dietary trials. Although there was a trend toward larger effects with dietary interventions, none of the possible mediators of blood pressure reduction explained differences in treatment effect. We conclude that calcium supplementation leads to a small reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The effect of supplemental calcium in the diet is at least as great as nondietary supplementation.