A standard systemic therapy for patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative advanced breast cancer (ABC) is yet to be identified. Sorafenib has been developed for the treatment of solid tumors, including breast cancer, as an oral multikinase inhibitor with antiangiogenic and antiproliferative activity. The aim of the present study was to assess the efficacy and safety of sorafenib in patients with HER2-negative ABC by performing a meta-analysis. A literature search was applied to databases, including PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library Databases, American Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Society for Medical Oncology, with the search terms 'advanced breast cancer' and 'sorafenib' and relevant studies were selected for analysis. The data extracted from the selected studies included progression-free survival (PFS), time to progression (TTP), overall survival (OS) and overall response rate (ORR). Major adverse events (AEs) were also analyzed. A total of four randomized controlled trials containing 844 cases were identified. Combined results revealed that when compared with chemotherapy (or with anti-hormone receptor therapy) alone, sorafenib-based therapy significantly increased the PFS [hazard ratio (HR), 0.78; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.54-1.02] and TTP (HR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.50-0.97), but not the OS (HR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.75-1.15) and ORR (relative risk, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.01-1.39). In addition, the incidence of grade 3/4 AEs, including hand-foot skin syndrome, anemia, fatigue, rash and stomatitis, were significantly increased in patients that received sorafenib-based therapy. Therefore, the results from the current meta-analysis indicated that sorafenib-based therapy improved the PFS and TTP in patients with HER2-negative ABC, but not the OS and ORR. In addition, combination treatment was associated with increased toxicities and frequently required dose reductions.