The present systematic review and metaanalysis of published observational studies was conducted to assess the health effects of exposure to air pollution on diabetes risk. Online databases were searched through January 2013, and the reference lists of pertinent articles reporting observational studies in humans were examined. Pooled relative risks and 95 % confidence intervals were calculated with a random-effects model. Exposure to air pollution was associated with slight increase in risk of diabetes and susceptibility of people with diabetes to air pollution. These results were consistent between time-series, case-crossover and cohort studies and between studies conducted in North America and Europe. The association between exposure to air pollution and diabetes was stronger for gaseous pollutants than for particulate matter. Our metaanalysis suggests that exposure to air pollution may be a risk factor for diabetes and increase susceptibility of people with diabetes to air pollution.