Background: Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair in children is increasingly performed as it allows contralateral inspection and potentially results in shorter operation time and less complications. Evidence from meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) regarding the superiority of laparoscopic versus open hernia repair is lacking. Methods: A systematic literature search was performed querying PubMed, Embase, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Library databases. RCTs comparing laparoscopic with open hernia repair in children were considered eligible, without year and language restrictions. Cochrane Risk of Bias tool was used for quality assessment. Data were pooled using a random-effects model. Subgroup analyses were performed according to the laparoscopic suturing technique (i.e., intracorporeal or extracorporeal). Results: Eight RCTs (n = 733 patients; age range 4 months–16 years) were included in this meta-analysis. Laparoscopic (LH) and open (OH) hernia repair was performed in 375 and 358 patients, respectively. Complications (seven RCTs, n = 693; pooled OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.14 to 1.79), recurrences (seven RCTs, n = 693; pooled OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.20 to 3.88), and MCIH rates (four RCTs, n = 343; pooled OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.04 to 1.86) were not different between the groups. LH resulted in shorter bilateral operation time (Five RCTs, n = 194; weighted mean difference (WMD) − 7.19, 95% CI − 10.04 to − 4.34). Unilateral operation time, length of hospital stay, and time to recovery were similar. There was insufficient evidence to assess postoperative pain and wound cosmesis, and evidence of substantial heterogeneity between the included studies. Subgroup analyses demonstrated less complications and shorter unilateral operation time for extracorporeal suturing and shorter length of hospital stay for intracorporeal suturing. Conclusions and relevance: No definite conclusions to decide on the superiority of one of either treatment strategies can yet be drawn from the available literature. There was evidence of substantial heterogeneity and the clinical relevance of most estimated effects is very limited.