Background: An effective and tolerable bowel preparation is important to secure quality of colonoscopies. It remains unclear if sodium picosulphate with magnesium citrate (SPMC), which is considered a tolerable bowel preparation agent, is also an effective alternative for polyethylene glycol (PEG) and sodium phosphate (NaP). Aim: The aim of this article is to compare effectiveness of SPMC to PEG and NaP through assessment of quality of bowel cleansing measured by validated tools. Methods: We searched electronic databases up to January 2015. Only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were included. Two authors independently performed selection of studies, risk of bias assessment and data extraction. Results: Thirteen RCTs were included, with overall good quality, but large heterogeneity. SPMC had slightly better quality of bowel cleansing than PEG (pooled RR 1.06; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.11). In most trials SPMC was significantly better tolerated than PEG. There were no significant differences in effectiveness or tolerability between SPMC and NaP. Side effects were similar between agents, except for dizziness (pooled RR 1.71; 95% CI 1.32 to 2.21 in favour of PEG vs. SPMC) and vomiting (pooled RR 0.35; 95% CI 0.13 to 0.95 in favour of single-dose SPMC vs. split-dose). Conclusions: SPMC is equally effective to NaP and little superior to PEG in terms of bowel cleansing. SPMC preparations were better tolerated than PEG preparations. SPMC may be considered as standard bowel preparation for colonoscopy.