Background Infliximab and adalimumab have established roles in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) therapy. UK regulators mandate reassessment after 12 months' anti-TNF therapy for IBD, with consideration of treatment withdrawal. There is a need for more data to establish the relapse rates following treatment cessation. Aim To establish outcomes following anti-TNF withdrawal for sustained remission using new data from a large UK cohort, and assimilation of all available literature for systematic review and meta-analysis. Methods A retrospective observational study was performed on 166 patients with IBD (146 with Crohn's disease (CD) and 20 with ulcerative colitis [UC) and IBD unclassified (IBDU)] withdrawn from anti-TNF for sustained remission. Meta-analysis was undertaken of all published studies incorporating 11 further cohorts totalling 746 patients (624 CD, 122 UC). Results Relapse rates in the UK cohort were 36% by 1 year and 56% by 2 years for CD, and 42% by 1 year and 47% by 2 years for UC/IBDU. Increased relapse risk in CD was associated with age at diagnosis [hazard ratio (HR) 2.78 for age <22 years], white cell count (HR 3.22 for >5.25 × 109/L) and faecal calprotectin (HR 2.95 for >50 μg/g) at drug withdrawal. Neither continued immunomodulators nor endoscopic remission were predictors. In the meta-analysis, estimated 1-year relapse rates were 39% and 35% for CD and UC/IBDU respectively. Retreatment with anti-TNF was successful in 88% for CD and 76% UC/IBDU. Conclusions Assimilation of all available data reveals remarkable homogeneity. Approximately one-third of patients with IBD flare within 12 months of withdrawal of anti-TNF therapy for sustained remission.