A number of prospective cohort studies have investigated the associations between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and the risk of hypertension, CHD and stroke, but revealed mixed results. In the present study, we aimed to perform a dose–response meta-analysis of these prospective studies to clarify these associations. A systematic literature search was conducted using the PubMed and Embase databases up to 5 May 2014. Random- or fixed-effects models were used to calculate the pooled relative risks (RR) with 95 % CI for the highest compared with the lowest category of SSB consumption, and to conduct a dose–response analysis. A total of six prospective studies (240 726 participants and 80 411 incident cases of hypertension) from four publications on hypertension were identified. A total of four prospective studies (194 664 participants and 7396 incident cases of CHD) from four publications on CHD were identified. A total of four prospective studies (259 176 participants and 10 011 incident cases of stroke) from four publications on stroke were identified. The summary RR for incident hypertension was 1·08 (95 % CI 1·04, 1·12) for every additional one serving/d increase in SSB consumption. The summary RR for incident CHD was 1·17 (95 % CI 1·10, 1·24) for every serving/d increase in SSB consumption. There was no significant association between SSB consumption and total stroke (summary RR 1·06, 95 % CI 0·97, 1·15) for every serving/d increase in SSB consumption. The present meta-analysis suggested that a higher consumption of SSB was associated with a higher risk of hypertension and CHD, but not with a higher risk of stroke.