Background Furosemide is the most common loop diuretic used worldwide. The off-label administration of furosemide bolus(es) for the prevention or to reverse acute kidney injury (AKI) is widespread but not supported by available evidence. We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized trials (RCTs) to investigate whether bolus furosemide to prevent or treat AKI is detrimental on patients’ survival. Methods Electronic databases were searched through October 2017 for RCTs comparing bolus furosemide administration versus any comparator in patients with or at risk for AKI. The primary endpoint was all-cause longest follow-up mortality. Secondary endpoints included new or worsening AKI, receipt of renal replacement therapy, length of hospital stay, and peak serum creatinine after randomization. Results A total of 28 studies randomizing 3,228 patients were included in the analysis. We found no difference in mortality between the two groups (143/892 [16%] in the furosemide group versus 141/881 [16%] in the control group; odds ratio [OR], 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] , 0.63 to 1.13; p = 0.25). No significant differences in secondary outcomes were found. A significant improvement in survival was found in the subgroup of patients receiving furosemide bolus(es) as a preventive measure (43/613 [7.0%] versus 67/619 [10.8%] , OR 0.62; 95% CI, 0.41 to 0.94; p = 0.03) Conclusions Intermittent furosemide administration is not associated with an increased mortality in patients with or at risk for AKI, although it may reduce mortality when used as a preventive measure. Future high-quality RCTs are needed to define the role of loop diuretics in AKI prevention and management. Trial registration The study protocol was registered on PROSPERO database for systematic reviews (Registration no. CRD42017078607 – http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record. php?ID=CRD42017078607). © 2018 Bove et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.