Antimicrobials play an important role in animal and human health care. It was the aim of this systematic review to assess the effects of oral administration of antimicrobials on the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Escherichia coli (E. coli) from chickens. Moreover, the effects of the administration of more than one antimicrobial and of different dosages were studied. Literature was searched in November 2012 from the electronic databases ISI Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus and a national literature database (DIMDI) as well as the database ProQuest LLC. The search was updated in March 2014. Original studies describing a treatment (A) and a control group of either non-treatment (C) or initial value (0) and determining AMR in E. coli at different sample points (SP) were included. The literature search resulted in 35 full text articles on the topic, seven (20%) of which contained sufficient information on the administered antimicrobial and the impact of treatment on AMR. Most papers described the use of more than one antimicrobial, several dosages, controls (non-treatment or pre-treatment) and measured AMR at different SPs leading to a total of 227 SPs on the impact of the use of antimicrobials on AMR in chickens. 74% of the SPs (168/227) described a higher AMR-rate in E. coli from treated animals than from controls. After the administration of a single antimicrobial, AMR increased at 72% of the SPs. Administration of more than one antimicrobial increased AMR at 82% of the SPs. Higher dosages were associated with similar or higher AMR rates. The limited number of studies for each antimicrobial agent and the high variability in the resistance effect call for more well designed studies on the impact of oral administration on AMR development and spread. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.