A systematic literature review was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of interventions that aim to prevent back pain and back injury in nurses. Ten relevant databases were searched; these were examined and reference lists checked. Two reviewers applied selection criteria, assessed methodological quality and extracted data from trials. A qualitative synthesis of evidence was undertaken and sensitivity analyses performed. Eight randomised controlled trials and eight non-randomised controlled trials met eligibility criteria. Overall, study quality was poor, with only one trial classified as high quality. There was no strong evidence regarding the efficacy of any interventions aiming to prevent back pain and injury in nurses. The review identified moderate level evidence from multiple trials that manual handling training in isolation is not effective and multidimensional interventions are effective in preventing back pain and injury in nurses. Single trials provided moderate evidence that stress management programs do not prevent back pain and limited evidence that lumbar supports are effective in preventing back injury in nurses. There is conflicting evidence regarding the efficacy of exercise interventions and the provision of manual handling equipment and training. This review highlights the need for high quality randomised controlled studies to examine the effectiveness of interventions to prevent back pain and injury in nursing populations. Implications for future research are discussed.