Aim: To investigate the association of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) promoter polymorphisms with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) risk. Methods: One thousand and six New Zealand Caucasian cases and 540 Caucasian controls were genotyped for the MIF SNP -173G > C (rs755622) and the repeat polymorphism CATT5-8 (rs5844572) using a predesigned TaqMan SNP assay and capillary electrophoresis, respectively. Data were analysed for single site and haplotype association with IBD risk and phenotype. Meta-analysis was employed, to assess cumulative evidence of association of MIF -173G > C with IBD. All published genotype data for MIF -173G > C in IBD were identified using PubMed and subsequently searching the references of all PubMed-identified studies. Imputed genotypes for MIF -173G > C were generated from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). Separate meta-analyses were performed on Caucasian Crohn's disease (CD) (3863 patients, 6031 controls), Caucasian ulcerative colitis (UC) (1260 patients, 1987 controls), and East Asian UC (416 patients and 789 controls) datasets using the Mantel-Haenszel method. The New Zealand dataset had 93% power, and the meta-analyses had 100% power to detect an effect size of OR = 1.40 at α = 0.05, respectively. Results: In our New Zealand dataset, single-site analysis found no evidence of association of MIF polymorphisms with overall risk of CD, UC, and IBD or disease phenotype (all P values > 0.05). Haplotype analysis found the CATT5/-173C haplotype occurred at a higher frequency in New Zealand controls compared to IBD patients (0.6 vs 0.01; P = 0.03, OR = 0.22; 95%CI: 0.05-0.99), but this association did not survive bonferroni correction. Meta-analysis of our New Zealand MIF -173G > C data with data from seven additional Caucasian datasets using a random effects model found no association of MIF polymorphisms with CD, UC, or overall IBD. Similarly, meta-analysis of all published MIF -173G > C data from East Asian datasets (416 UC patients, 789 controls) found no association of this promoter polymorphism with UC. Conclusion: We found no evidence of association of MIF promoter polymorphisms with IBD. © 2013 Baishideng. All rights reserved.