BACKGROUND Existing literature has shown that patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) can benefit greatly from the strength training; therefore, the strength training should play a more important role in cardiac rehabilitation. However, the medical community may still have conservation to apply the strength training owing to no comprehensive study so far to compare the effectiveness of the strength training to the other trainings, such as aerobic training. OBJECTIVE To evaluate the effect of strength training on motor function in patients with CAD. METHODS Published articles from the earliest date available to July 2015 were identified using electronic searches. Two reviewers selected independently relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating exercise program with strength training versus control interventions (exercise without strength training, including aerobic training and no exercise group) for the treatment of CAD patients. We examined effects of exercise with strength training versus control interventions on peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), duration of exercise test and muscle strength. Two reviewers extracted data independently. RESULTS Twenty seven trials that represented 1151 participants passed the selection criteria and were evaluated for the effects of strength training in CAD patients. For improving VO2peak [SMD (95%CI) = 0.58 (0.11, 1.06)] and muscle strength [upper limb, SMD (95% CI) =0.44 (0.34, 0.55); lower limb, SMD (95% CI) =0.33 (0.16, 0.50)], exercise program with strength training were significantly more effective than one without it. But there is no significantly difference on duration of exercise test [SMD (95%CI) = 0.17 (-0.04, 0.39)] in strength training group than in control group. CONCLUSIONS We conclude strength training is effective in improving muscle strength and VO2peak, in CAD patients, when compared to patients with control group. Furthermore, our evaluations suggest that strength training does not compromise clinical trial completion or safety.