Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the interleukin-10 (IL10) gene promoter have been associated with persistent hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. In particular, the -1082A/G, -819 C/T and -592 A/C polymorphisms have most often been implicated. We performed a meta-analysis of available data to determine the relative importance of these SNPs in persistent HBV infection. We searched available articles in NCBI PubMed, EMBASE, the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM) and identified 24 studies for inclusion in our meta-analysis. Our results indicated that the presence of the IL10 -819 C allele significantly increased the risk for persistent HBV infection (CC+CT vs. TT: OR = 1.283, 95 % CI 1.023-1.610, P = 0.031; C vs. T: OR = 1.183, 95 % CI 1.001-1.399, P = 0.049). Meanwhile, the -1082A/-819T/-592A haplotype (OR = 0.751, 95 % CI 0.640-0.881, P = 0.000) and the -1082A/-819C/-592C haplotype (OR = 1.568, 95 % CI 1.304-1.884, P = 0.000) were observed to be significantly associated with HBV disease progression in Asians. In contrast, the IL10 -1082A/G and -592A/C polymorphisms were not associated with an increased susceptibility to or outcome of HBV infection. Our meta-analysis supports the growing body of evidence that the presence of the IL10 -819 C/T polymorphism is associated with persistent HBV infection and that the -1082A/-819T/-592A haplotype and the -1082A/-819C/-592C haplotype are associated with HBV disease progression in Asians.