The treatment of choice for severe malaria is quinine. However, a gradual progression of resistance to quinine has become a concern in parts of the world. Artemisinin-related compounds are a relatively new class of drugs. This meta-analysis assesses the evidence regarding the clinical effectiveness of artemether for severe malaria. Computerized literature searches identified all randomized clinical trials of artemether in comparison with quinine. Standardized data extraction was independently performed by both authors. Results of nine trials, entered in the meta-analysis, demonstrate the absence of a significant difference between artemether and quinine in terms of mortality rate (odds ratio [OR], 0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.50-1.14). Statistical pooling of data from trials in Southeast Asia showed a trend toward enhanced reduction of mortality (OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.14-1.02). These data demonstrate the equality of artemether and quinine for severe malaria and indicate a trend toward greater effectiveness of artemether in regions where there is recognized quinine resistance.