The purpose of this systematic review was to describe the prevalence of whiplash trauma in patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) and to describe clinical signs and symptoms in comorbid TMD/whiplash compared with TMD localised to the facial region. A systematic literature search of the PubMed, Cochrane Library and Bandolier databases was carried out for articles published from 1 January 1966 to 31 December 2012. The systematic search identified 129 articles. After the initial screening of abstracts, 32 articles were reviewed in full text applying inclusion and exclusion criteria. Six studies on the prevalence of neck trauma in patients with TMD met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Two of the authors evaluated the methodological quality of the included studies. The reported prevalence of whiplash trauma ranged from 8·4% to 70% (median 35%) in TMD populations, compared with 1·7–13% in the non-TMD control groups. Compared with patients with TMD localised to the facial region, TMD patients with a history of whiplash trauma reported more TMD symptoms, such as limited jaw opening and more TMD pain, and also more headaches and stress symptoms. In conclusion, the prevalence of whiplash trauma is higher in patients with TMD compared with non-TMD controls. Furthermore, patients with comorbid TMD/whiplash present with more jaw pain and more severe jaw dysfunction compared with TMD patients without a history of head–neck trauma. These results suggest that whiplash trauma might be an initiating and/or aggravating factor as well as a comorbid condition for TMD.