Aims A substantial proportion of patients with heart failure have preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (HF-PEF). Previous studies have reported mixed results whether survival is similar to those patients with heart failure and reduced EF (HF-REF). Methods and results We compared survival in patients with HF-PEF with that in patients with HF-REF in a meta-analysis using individual patient data. Preserved EF was defined as an EF = 50%. The 31 studies included 41 972 patients: 10 347 with HF-PEF and 31 625 with HF-REF. Compared with patients with HF-REF, those with HF-PEF were older (mean age 71 vs. 66 years), were more often women (50 vs. 28%), and have a history of hypertension (51 vs. 41%). Ischaemic aetiology was less common (43 vs. 59%) in patients with HF-PEF. There were 121 [95% confidence interval (CI): 117, 126] deaths per 1000 patient-years in those with HF-PEF and 141 (95% CI: 138, 144) deaths per 1000 patient-years in those with HF-REF. Patients with HF-PEF had lower mortality than those with HF-REF (adjusted for age, gender, aetiology, and history of hypertension, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation); hazard ratio 0.68 (95% CI: 0.64, 0.71). The risk of death did not increase notably until EF fell below 40%. Conclusion Patients with HF-PEF have a lower risk of death than patients with HF-REF, and this difference is seen regardless of age, gender, and aetiology of HF. However, absolute mortality is still high in patients with HF-PEF highlighting the need for a treatment to improve prognosis.