To determine whether adefovir (ADV) in combination with entecavir (ETV) is more effective than with lamivudine (LAM) in patients with lamivudine-resistant chronic HBV infection, electronic databases were searched through May 10th, 2013 to obtain relevant trials which met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis was performed on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized studies. Four trials containing a total of 323 patients were included. Serum HBV DNA reductions after 3 and 6 months of treatment in the ETV + ADV group were greater than that of LAM + ADV group (mean difference (MD) = 0.90, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.74–1.07, P < 0.00001; MD = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.57–1.06, P < 0.00001). The rate of 6 months HBV DNA undetectability with ETV and ADV was higher than that of LAM and ADV (relative risk (RR) = 1.63, 95% CI: 1.14–2.34, P < 0.007). There were higher rates of serum ALT normalization than those in LAM + ADV group after 6 months of treatment (RR = 1.40, 95% CI: 1.11–1.77, P < 0.005). The ETV + ADV group had lower viral breakthrough and genotypic mutation rates than LAM + ADV group after 12 months of treatment (RR = 0.24, 95% CI: 0.10–0.58, P = 0.002). The combination of ETV plus ADV is a more effective rescue therapy than LAM add-on ADV in patients with LAM-resistant HBV.