BACKGROUND: At the beginning of 1994, five cases of sudden infant death syndrome after DTP immunization appeared in Spain. In order to study a causal relationship a meta-analysis of the different studies that assess this possibility has been conducted. METHODS: The selection criteria was epidemiological study, case-control or cohort, assessing risk of sudden infant death syndrome in immunized versus non-immunized infants or risk of sudden infant death syndrome in recently immunized infants versus immunized infants beyond 30 days. Pooled risk ratios were calculated from adjusted risk ratios, when available, of the different studies, by a meta-analysis according the method described by Greenland. RESULTS: One cohort and four case-control studies were selected. Pooled risk ratio for immunized versus non-immunized infants was 0.67 (95% CI = 0.60-0.75). When comparing risk of sudden death syndrome in up to 30 days immunized infants versus more than 30 days immunized infants, the pooled risk ratio was 1.00 (95% CI = 0.84-1.20). CONCLUSIONS: DTP-immunization does not seem to increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The risk of sudden infant death syndrome is not greater in the first thirty days following immunization. These data indicate a lack of association between DTP immunization and sudden infant death syndrome.