Telomere biology plays a critical and complex role in the initiation and progression of cancer. Several recent studies have provided evidence that rs401681 polymorphisms in intronic region of cleft lip and palate trans-membrane 1-like (CLPTM1L) gene sequence are associated with pancreatic cancer (PC) development, but a comprehensive synopsis is not available. We performed a meta-analysis of 6 case-control studies that included 8,253 pancreatic cancer cases and 37,646 case-free controls. We assessed the strength of the association, using odds ratios (ORs) with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs). Overall, this meta-analysis showed that rs401681 allele T was associated with a significantly increased PC risk (OR = 1.17, 95 % CI = 1.12-1.22, P heterpgeneity = 0.596 and I (2) = 0). Similarly, in the subgroup analysis by ethnicity, a significantly increased risk was found among Asians (OR = 1.15, 95 % CI = 1.07-1.24, P heterpgeneity = 0.297 and I (2) = 8.0 %) and among Caucasian (OR = 1.13, 95 % CI = 1.02-1.26, P heterpgeneity = 0.385 and I (2) = 0). No publication bias was found in the present study. This meta-analysis suggests that T allele of CLPTM1L-telomerase reverse transcriptase rs401681 polymorphism is associated with an increased PC risk, especially among Chinese. Further large and well-designed studies are needed to confirm this association.