BACKGROUND: Meditative movement, such as tai chi, yoga, and qi gong, may benefit people with cystic fibrosis (CF), as a form of gentle exercise incorporating meditation, breathing, and relaxation. Respiratory function is the most common issue in CF. In this systematic review we synthesized the evidence on the effect of meditative movement on respiratory function in patients with CF. METHODS: We searched Chinese and English language databases with terms relating to tai chi/yoga/qi gong, and respiratory function/cough/dyspnea. Articles were screened and selected by 2 researchers. We included controlled studies published in English or Chinese after 1980, and extracted data using a specially designed spreadsheet. Two researchers independently evaluated study quality and reporting, using 3 standardized checklists. Meta-analysis was not possible due to heterogeneous methods. RESULTS: We found 1,649 papers, included 43 (30 in English, 13 in Chinese), 23 of which were randomized controlled trials, and 20 were non-randomized trials. No studies were concerned with CF. Eleven studies included patients with respiratory disorders, and 27 included healthy people. Very few studies were high quality. The main problems with the randomized controlled trials was the randomization and non-random and/or poorly reported sampling. The main problems with the non-randomized studies were poor reporting of samples and non-equivalent groups. Although no clinically important changes were found, meditative movement may improve FEV1 in healthy people, compared to no treatment/exercise (the intervention groups showed effect-size changes from 0.07 to 0.83), but meditative movement did not appear to affect FEV1/FVC in subjects with COPD. Key study limitations were: poor reporting of sampling or methods; inadequate sample size; non-randomized design; inadequate description of randomization; randomization by center; no blinding; lack of reporting of important aspects of meditative movement; and short-term follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The available evidence does not support meditative movement for patients with CF, and there is very limited evidence for respiratory function in healthy populations. The available studies had heterogeneous populations and provided inadequate sampling information, so clinically relevant conclusions cannot be drawn. Well powered, randomized studies of meditative movement are needed.