Background:Poorly controlled diabetes leads to debilitating complications at a significant cost to health systems. Text messaging is an ideal platform for the delivery of self-management interventions to patients with poorly controlled diabetes due to the ubiquity of mobile phones, and the ability of text messaging to reach people in their everyday lives when self-management of the condition is vital. This systematic review aimed to assess the effectiveness of short message service-based diabetes self-management interventions on glycaemic control in adults with poorly controlled diabetes. Methods/design:MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library and PsychINFO were searched from inception through to 23 January 2017 for randomised controlled trials investigating the use of text messaging based self-management interventions on haemoglobin A1c for patients with poorly controlled diabetes. Results:Seven studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Three of the studies reported a significant decrease in haemoglobin A1c from baseline to follow-up in the intervention group compared to the control group. No clear relationship between positive outcomes and intervention dose, content and functionality was seen. Discussion:Evidence supporting text messaging for improvements in glycaemic control in people with poorly controlled diabetes is mixed. Previous reviews have reported positive impacts on glycaemic control for short message service interventions in patients with diabetes; however, when limited to those with poorly controlled diabetes the evidence is less clear. Large-scale studies with robust methodology and longer-term follow-up are needed to further understand the impact of text-messaging-based self-management interventions for people with poorly controlled diabetes.