Objective The application of robotic surgery for rectal cancer is increasing steadily. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to compare pathologic outcomes among patients with rectal cancer who underwent open rectal surgery (ORS) versus robotic rectal surgery (RRS). Methods We systematically searched the literature of EMBASE, PubMed, the Cochrane Library of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and nonrandomized controlled trials (nRCTs) comparing ORS with RRS. Results Fourteen nRCTs, including 2711 patients met the predetermined inclusion criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. Circumferential resection margin (CRM) positivity (OR: 0.58, 95% CI, 0.29 to 1.16, P = 0.13), number of harvested lymph nodes (WMD: -0.31, 95% CI, -2.16 to 1.53, P = 0.74), complete total mesorectal excision (TME) rates (OR: 0.93, 95% CI, 0.48 to 1.78, P = 0.83) and the length of distal resection margins (DRM) (WMD: -0.01, 95% CI, -0.26 to 0.25, P = 0.96) did not differ significantly between the RRS and ORS groups. Conclusion Based on the current evidence, robotic resection for rectal cancer provided equivalent pathological outcomes to ORS in terms of CRM positivity, number of harvested lymph nodes and complete TME rates and DRM.