High consumption of whole-grain food such as oats is associated with a reduced risk of CVD and type 2 diabetes. The present study aimed to systematically review the literature describing long-term intervention studies that investigated the effects of oats or oat bran on CVD risk factors. The literature search was conducted using Embase, Medline and the Cochrane library, which identified 654 potential articles. Seventy-six articles describing sixty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria. Most studies lacked statistical power to detect a significant effect of oats on any of the risk factors considered: 59 % of studies had less than thirty subjects in the oat intervention group. Out of sixty-four studies that assessed systemic lipid markers, thirty-seven (58 %) and thirty-four (49 %) showed a significant reduction in total cholesterol (2-19 % reduction) and LDL-cholesterol (4-23 % reduction) respectively, mostly in hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Few studies (three and five, respectively) described significant effects on HDL-cholesterol and TAG concentrations. Only three out of twenty-five studies found a reduction in blood pressure after oat consumption. None of the few studies that measured markers of insulin sensitivity and inflammation found any effect after long-term oat consumption. Long-term dietary intake of oats or oat bran has a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol. However, there is no evidence that it favourably modulates insulin sensitivity. It is still unclear whether increased oat consumption significantly affects other risk markers for CVD risk, and comprehensive, adequately powered and controlled intervention trials are required to address this question.