OBJECTIVE: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a pre-dementia state; 5-10% of cases per year will evolve into dementia. MCI can be amnestic (AMCI) or non-amnestic. AMCI is associated with a higher risk of progression. In recent years, interest in acupuncture as a potential treatment for AMCI has grown. The aim of this meta-analysis was to estimate the clinical effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for AMCI. METHODS: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of acupuncture versus medical treatment for AMCI were identified using the following databases from inception to July 2015: PubMed; Medline; CENTRAL; Chinese Scientific Journal Database; The Chinese Acupuncture Trials Register; China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI); and Wanfang database. Data were extracted from RCTs meeting the inclusive criteria according to Cochrane methods. Meta-analyses were conducted using Rev Man V.5.3 software. RESULTS: Five trials involving 568 subjects were included. Meta-analysis showed that participants receiving acupuncture had better outcomes than those receiving nimodipine with greater clinical efficacy rates (odds ratio (OR) 1.78, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.65; p<0.01), mini-mental state examination (MMSE) scores (mean difference (MD) 0.99, 95% CI 0.71 to 1.28; p<0.01), and picture recognition score (MD 2.12, 95% CI 1.48 to 2.75; p<0.01). Meta-analysis also showed acupuncture in conjunction with nimodipine significantly improved MMSE scores (MD 1.09, 95% CI 0.29 to 1.89; p<0.01) compared to nimodipine alone. Three trials reported adverse events. Methodological quality of the included studies was judged to be generally poor. CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture appears effective for AMCI when used as an alternative or adjunctive treatment; however, caution must be exercised given the low methodological quality of included trials. Further, more rigorously designed studies are needed.