BACKGROUND: Considerable efforts have been devoted to evaluating the association of the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (gene AGER and protein: RAGE) genetic variants to coronary artery disease (CAD); the results, however, are often irreproducible. To generate more information, we sought to explore four common polymorphisms of AGER and its circulating forms associated with the risk of CAD via a meta-analysis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Articles were identified by searching PubMed, EMBASE, Wanfang and CNKI databases before March 2013. Qualified articles had case-control designs and investigated AGER four polymorphisms (T-429C, T-374A, Gly82Ser, G1704A) or circulating soluble RAGE (sRAGE) or endogenous secretory RAGE (esRAGE) levels associated with CAD. Twenty-seven... articles involving 39 independent groups fulfilled the predefined criteria. Overall, no significance was observed for all examined polymorphisms under allelic and dominant models. When restricting groups to CAD patients with diabetes mellitus or renal disease, deviations of risk estimates from the unity were stronger than overall estimates for all polymorphisms except for G1704A due to limited available studies. For example, under dominant model, having -429C allele increased the odds of developing CAD in diabetic patients by 1.22-fold (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.99-1.51; P = 0.06; I (2) = 6.7%) compared with that of overall estimate of 1.15-fold (95% CI: 0.97-1.36; P = 0.111; I (2) = 18.0%). Circulating sRAGE levels were non-significantly lower in CAD patients than in controls, whereas this reduction was totally and significantly reversed in CAD patients with diabetes mellitus (weighted mean difference: 185.71 pg/ml; 95% CI: 106.82 to 264.61 pg/ml). Circulating esRAGE levels were remarkably lower in CAD patients, as well as in subgroups with or without diabetes mellitus and without renal disease. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrated that association of AGER genetic polymorphisms with CAD was potentiated in patients with diabetes mellitus or renal disease. Practically, circulating esRAGE might be a powerful negative predictor for the development of CAD.