A meta-analysis of prevalence and cohort studies conducted over the last 30 years was carried out to identify risk markers for challenging behaviour shown by individuals with intellectual disabilities (IDs). A total of 86 potential studies was identified from the review, with 22 (25.6%) containing sufficient data to enable a statistical analysis to be conducted. Results indicated that males were significantly more likely to show aggression than females, and that individuals with a severe/profound degree of ID were significantly more likely to show self-injury and stereotypy than individuals with a mild/moderate degree of ID. Individuals with a diagnosis of autism were significantly more likely to show self-injury, aggression and disruption to the environment whilst individuals with deficits in receptive and expressive communication were significantly more likely to show self-injury. In most cases, tests for heterogeneity were statistically significant, as expected. The meta-analysis highlighted the paucity of methodologically robust studies of risk markers for challenging behaviours and the lack of data on incidence, prevalence and chronicity of challenging behaviour in this population.