This quantitative review summarises studies of rigid fibreoptic laryngoscopy systems. In 6622 ‘normal’ patients only the Bonfils and CTrach had homogenous data and first time intubation success rates above 90%. In 1110 patients predicted or known to be difficult to intubate only the Bonfils, CTrach and Glidescope had homogenous data and first-time success rates above 90%. In comparative studies with the Macintosh-3 blade, no device had homogenous data in more than one study. Many devices had higher summed performances, but due to data heterogeneity, interpretation is very difficult, if worthwhile at all. The currently available data do not provide strong evidence that these devices should supersede standard direct laryngoscopy for routine or difficult intubation. Further research needs to be of high quality, studying relevant patients to create such evidence. Multicentre collaborations are likely to be needed studying known difficult patients or creating databases reporting the success/failure rate of these devices.