Shift and night work are associated with several negative outcomes. The aim of this study was to make a systematic review of all studies which examine effects of shift and night work in the offshore petroleum industry, to synthesize the knowledge of how shift work offshore may affect the workers. Searches for studies concerning effects on health, sleep, adaptation, safety, working conditions, family- and social life and turnover were conducted via the databases Web of Knowledge, PsycINFO and PubMed. Search was also conducted through inspection of reference lists of relevant literature. We identified studies describing effects of shift work in terms of sleep, adaptation and re-adaptation of circadian rhythms, health outcomes, safety and accidents, family and social life, and work perceptions. Twenty-nine studies were included. In conclusion, the longitudinal studies were generally consistent in showing that adaptation to night work was complete within one to two weeks of work, while re-adaptation to a daytime schedule was slower. Shift workers reported more sleep problems than day workers. The data regarding mental and physical health, family and social life, and accidents yielded inconsistent results, and were insufficient as a base for drawing general conclusions. More research in the field is warranted.