Administration of antimicrobials to livestock increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in commensal bacteria. Antimicrobials in pig production are usually administered per pen via feed which implies treatment of sick alongside with healthy animals. The objective of this systematic literature review was to investigate the effect of orally administered antimicrobials on AMR in Escherichia coli of swine. Studies published in peer reviewed journals were retrieved from the international online databases ISI Web of Knowledge, PubMed, Scopus and the national electronic literature data base of Deutsches Institut fur Medizinische Dokumentation und Information. The studies were assessed using the eligibility criteria English or German language, access to full paper version, defined treatment and control group (initial value or non-treatment) as well as administration and resistance testing of the same antimicrobial class. In the qualitative synthesis, only studies were included presenting the summary measures odds ratio or prevalence of resistance, the category of the applied antimicrobial and the dosage. An effect of the antimicrobial on AMR in E. coli was evaluated as an "increase", "no effect" or "decrease" if the odds or alternatively the prevalence ratio were >1.0, 1.0 or <1.0, respectively. Eleven studies, describing 36 different trials, fulfilled the eligibility criteria and were finally assessed. An increase of AMR in E. coli was found in 10 out of 11 trials comparing AMR after with AMR prior to oral treatment and in 22 of the 25 trials comparing orally treated with untreated groups. Effects expressed as odds or prevalence ratios were highest for the use of aminoglycosides, quinolones and tetracycline. There was no clear association between the reported dosage and AMR towards tetracycline. Information on antimicrobial substance and dosage was missing in 4 and 5 of the 11 finally selected studies. The 36 identified trials were inhomogenous in usage and provision of information on sample size. Oral administration of antimicrobials increases the risk of AMR in E. call from swine. There is however a lack of studies on the impact of dosage and longitudinal effects of treatment. The published studies have a number of issues concerning their scientific quality. More high quality research is needed to better address and quantifiy the effect of orally administered antimicrobials on AMR in swine. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.