Laparoscopic-assisted distal gastrectomy (LADG) with D2 resection is gradually being performed for treating advanced gastric cancer. This meta-analysis aims to compare the clinical outcomes between LADG and open distal gastrectomy (ODG) when considering the impact of the learning curve. The PubMed, Embase, and ISI databases and the Cochrane Library were electronically searched. Randomized controlled trails and retrospective comparative studies published between 1994 and 2013 were collected. We divided the included studies into two subgroups according to whether the authors had experience of at least or fewer than 40 cases of LADG with D2 resection and then compared the operative time, intraoperative bleeding, the amount of resected lymph nodes, short-term recovery parameters, and complications between LADG and ODG groups. Ten comparative studies including 1100 patients were selected. Meta-analysis showed that when LADG was compared with ODG, surgeons with experience of at least 40 cases could achieve more resected lymph nodes (P=.002), reduced time to flatus (P<.0001), shortened time to liquid diet (P<.00001), and lower complication rates (P=.02). However, the above advantages of LADG faded in the subgroup of surgeons with experience of fewer than 40 cases. Our meta-analysis suggested that the learning curve has significant effects on most of the important surgical and short-term recovery outcome parameters. Accomplishment of 40 cases of LADG with D2 lymphadenectomy is required to achieve optimum proficiency.