Nurses in primary health care (PHC) provide an increasing proportion of chronic disease management and preventive lifestyle advice. The databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and PsychINFO were searched and the articles were systematically reviewed for articles describing controlled adult lifestyle intervention studies delivered by a PHC nurse, in a PHC setting. Thirty-one articles describing 28 studies were analysed by comparison group which revealed: (i) no difference of effect when the same intervention was delivered by a PHC nurse compared to other health professionals in PHC (n = 2); (ii) the provision of counselling delivered by a PHC nurse was more effective than health screening (n = 10); (iii) counselling based on behaviour change theory was more effective than the same dose of non-behavioural counselling when at least three counselling sessions were delivered (n = 3). The evidence supports the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions delivered by nurses in PHC to affect positive changes on outcomes associated with the prevention of chronic disease including: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, dietary and physical activity behaviours, patient satisfaction, readiness for change and quality of life. The strength of recommendations is limited by the small number of studies within each comparison group and the high risk of bias of the majority of studies.