Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1 catalyzes poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation to various proteins involved in many cellular processes, including DNA damage detection and repair and cell proliferation and death. PARP-1 has been implicated in human carcinogenesis, but the association between the most-studied PARP-1 V762A polymorphism (rs1136410) and risk of various cancers was reported with inconclusive results. The aim of this study was to assess the association between the PARP-1 V762A polymorphism and cancer risk. A meta-analysis of 21 studies with 12,027 cancer patients and 14,106 cancer-free controls was conducted to evaluate the strength of the association using odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Overall, no significant association was found between the PARP-1 V762A polymorphism and cancer risk. In the stratified analyses, however, it was found that the variant A allele of the PARP-1 V762A polymorphism was associated with an increased risk of cancer among Asian populations (VA + AA vs. VV: OR = 1.11, 95% CI: 1.01–1.23; Pheterogeneity = 0.210), but a decreased risk of cancer (VA + AA vs. VV: OR = 0.89, 95% CI: 0.80–1.00; Pheterogeneity = 0.004) among Caucasian populations, especially for glioma risk (OR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.69–0.90; Pheterogeneity = 0.800). This meta-analysis found evidence for an association of the PARP-1 V 762A polymorphism with increased risk of cancer among Asians, but decreased risk of cancer among Caucasians, particularly of glioma. Further well-designed studies with large sample sizes of different ethnic populations and different cancer types are warranted to confirm these findings. Genet. Epidemiol. 36 : 56–65 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.