Background: Surgical site infections (SSIs) remains a concern for surgeons because of the negative impact on outcomes and health care costs. Our purpose was to assess whether topical antibiotics before primary incision closure reduced the rate of SSIs. Methods: Systematic review of MEDLINE/PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, and Web of Science databases from inception to January 2017. Only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were retrieved. The primary outcome was the SSI rate. Meta-analysis was complemented with trial sequential analysis (TSA). Results: Thirty-five RCTs (10,870 patients) were included. Only β-lactams and aminoglycosides were used. A substantial reduction of the incidence of SSIs with the application of antibiotic agents before incision closure (risk ratio [RR] 0.49, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.37-0.64) was found, which remained in the analysis of 12 RCTs after removal of studies of uncertain quality. The use of β-lactams was effective to reduce SSI in elective surgery only (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.13-0.85). In clean-contaminated fields and as an irrigation solution, β-lactams did not reduce the risk of SSI. Aminoglycosides were not effective (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.49-1.10). After TSA, the evidence accumulated was far below the optimal information size. The heterogeneity of studies was high and methodological quality of most RCTs included in the meta-analysis was uncertain. Conclusions: Results of this meta-analysis show the data present in the literature are not sufficiently robust and, therefore, the use of topical β-lactams or aminoglycosides before incision closure to reduce SSI cannot be recommended or excluded.