To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the safety and effectiveness of inferior vena cava filter (IVCF) placement in the setting of massive and submassive pulmonary embolism (PE), Pubmed and Cochrane Library were queried to identify all clinical studies evaluating IVCF placement in patients with massive and submassive PE from database establishment to December 2019. The rate of recurrent PE, PE-related mortality, adverse events, IVCF type, additional treatment intervention, DVT status, and follow-up length were retrieved. Recurrent PE, mortality, and complication rates were pooled. Meta-analysis was performed to compare mortality rates between groups with and without IVCF placement. Subgroup analysis was performed based on whether catheter-directed therapy was used for PE intervention. Fifteen observational studies with a total of 232 patients who received IVCF for submassive or massive PE were included. The pooled overall recurrent symptomatic PE and mortality rates were 1.4% and 5.5%, respectively. A lower mortality rate among patients with IVCF was observed than those without (6.8% vs 26.3%; odds ratio [OR] 0.275 [95% confidence interval] 0.090 to 0.839], I 2 = 30.6%, p = 0.023). Patients who received concurrent catheter-directed therapy demonstrated a lower recurrent PE (0% vs 2.8%) and mortality rate (3.4% vs 7.8%) than those who did not. The cumulative IVCF-related complication rate was 0.63%. In conclusion, based on a limited amount of low-quality evidence, IVCF placement is associated with low recurrent PE and PE-related mortality rates among patients with massive and submassive PE, suggestive of a potential clinical benefit in this scenario. Prospectively designed studies are warranted to confirm these findings.