Abstract Canine visceral leishmaniasis is a systemic disease caused by Leishmania infantum. The aim of this systematic review was to identify and evaluate the evidence of efficacy of interventions for treatment or prevention of canine visceral leishmaniasis, and to propose recommendations for or against their use. Forty-seven articles describing clinical trials published between 1980 and 2004 fulfilled selection criteria. The evaluation of clinical trials provided good evidence for recommending the use of meglumine antimoniate at a minimum dosage of 100 mg kg−1 daily for at least 3–4 weeks, combined with allopurinol in order to obtain a good clinical efficacy and a reduced relapse rate. The evaluation of the articles also provided fair evidence for recommending the use of pentamidine (4 mg kg−1 twice weekly) and aminosidine (5 mg kg−1 twice daily) for 3–4 weeks. There was insufficient evidence for recommending the use of allopurinol alone, amphotericin B, buparvaquone, ketoconazole, enrofloxacin, and the combinations of metronidazole with spiramicyn or metronidazole with enrofloxacin. Fair evidence against the use of aminosidine at high dosages (20–80 mg kg−1 per day) was proposed due to its side effects. Evaluation of articles on repellent measures against sand fly vectors of leishmaniasis provided good evidence for recommending deltamethrin collars and fair evidence for recommending spot-on permethrin.