A meta-analysis was performed to compare the efficacy of tianeptine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) in the short-term treatment of depression. Consecutive selection and inclusion processes allowed five studies to be selected: two studies on tianeptine versus fluoxetine, two studies on tianeptine versus paroxetine, and one study on tianeptine versus sertraline. A total of 1348 patients were included in the five studies; 681 subjects received an SSRI and 667 tianeptine. A strict step-by-step methodology was applied in order to legitimize this meta-analysis and to interpret the results. Considering all the patients or those with a Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) inclusion score greater than 28, none of the assessed parameters (MADRS total score and responder rate) revealed any significant difference between the two treatment groups. Further analysis based on clinical global impression (CGI) items found no significant difference, except for CGI item 3 (therapeutic index), where a tendency (P=0.06 or 0.07 depending on the methodology) was found in favor of tianeptine. All in all, this study confirmed that tianeptine is at least as effective as SSRI, with a trend for a better acceptability profile in the treatment of depressed patients.