An emerging body of evidence has implicated plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D), though findings have not always been consistent. We systematically reviewed epidemiological studies examining the association of PAI-1 with T2D. EMBASE, PubMed, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library were searched to identify studies for inclusion. Fifty-two studies (44 cross-sectional with 47 unique analytical comparisons and 8 prospective) were included. In pooled random-effects analyses of prospective studies, a comparison of the top third vs. bottom third of baseline PAI-1 values generated a RR of T2D of 1.67 (95% CI 1.28-2.18) with moderate heterogeneity (I(2) = 38%). Additionally, of 47 cross-sectional comparisons, 34(72%) reported significantly elevated PAI-1 among diabetes cases versus controls, 2(4%) reported significantly elevated PAI-1 among controls, and 11(24%) reported null effects. Results from pooled analyses of prospective studies did not differ substantially by study design, length of follow-up, adjustment for various putative confounding factors, or study quality, and were robust to sensitivity analyses. Findings from this systematic review of the available epidemiological literature support a link between PAI-1 and T2D, independent of established diabetes risk factors. Given the moderate size of the association and heterogeneity across studies, future prospective studies are warranted.