Abstract a meta-analysis was conducted to quantify profiles of posthumous organ donors. Bibliographic databases were used to identify 1280 psychosocial studies on organ donation published from 1970 until february 2007. Methodological quality of 220 studies with relevant abstracts was assessed. Twenty-four studies comparing registered organ donors and those who had not made their organ donation preference explicit were included in the meta-analysis. Log odds ratios (lor) and standard errors (selor) were calculated for ‘demographic characteristics’, standardised mean differences (essm) and standard errors (sesm) for ‘psychosocial factors’. A random effects model was used to pool the studies. ‘education’, ‘religion’, ‘knowledge’, ‘attitude’, ‘social influence’, ‘family discussion’, and ‘altruism’ significantly predicted donor status in a positive way. The variables ‘fear of death’, and ‘organ donation-related fear’ were negatively related to registered donor status. Mmb organ donation promotion programmes should focus on fear reduction, emphasising positive aspects, and bringing about a positive social norm encouraged by altruistic motives. Lower educated people should be a specific priority group for organ donation promotion programmes.