Background and purpose: An increasing interest in the potential benefits of cognitive motor interference (CMI) for stroke has recently been observed, but the efficacy of CMI for gait and balance is controversial. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials was performed to estimate the effect of CMI on gait and balance in patients with stroke. Methods: Articles in Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, CINAHL, PEDro and the China Biology Medicine disc were searched from 1970 to July 2014. Only randomized controlled trials examining the effects of CMI for patients with stroke were included, and no language restrictions were applied. Main outcome measures included gait and balance function. Results: A total of 15 studies composed of 395 participants met the inclusion criteria, and 13 studies of 363 participants were used as data sources for the meta-analysis. Pooling revealed that CMI was superior to the control group for gait speed [mean difference (MD) 0.19 m/s, 95% confidence interval (CI) (0.06, 0.31), P = 0.003], stride length [MD 12.53 cm, 95% CI (4.07, 20.99), P = 0.004], cadence [MD 10.44 steps/min, 95% CI (4.17, 16.71), P = 0.001], centre of pressure sway area [MD -1.05, 95% CI (-1.85, -0.26), P = 0.01] and Berg balance scale [MD 2.87, 95% CI (0.54, 5.21), P = 0.02] in the short term. Conclusion: Cognitive motor interference is effective for improving gait and balance function for stroke in the short term. However, only little evidence supports assumptions regarding CMI's long-term benefits.