Population incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is required to assess changes in GBS epidemiology, but published estimates of GBS incidence vary greatly depending on case ascertainment, definitions, and sample size. We performed a meta-analysis of articles on GBS incidence by searching Medline (1966–2009), Embase (1988–2009), Cinahl (1981–2009) and CABI (1973–2009) as well as article bibliographies. We included studies from North America and Europe with at least 20 cases, and used population-based data, subject matter experts to confirm GBS diagnosis, and an accepted GBS case definition. With these data, we fitted a random-effects negative binomial regression model to estimate age-specific GBS incidence. Of 1,683 nonduplicate citations, 16 met the inclusion criteria, which produced 1,643 cases and 152.7 million person-years of follow-up. GBS incidence increased by 20% for every 10-year increase in age; the risk of GBS was higher for males than females. The regression equation for calculating the average GBS rate per 100,000 person-years as a function of age in years was exp[–12.0771 + 0.01813(age in years)] × 100,000. Our findings provide a robust estimate of background GBS incidence in Western countries. Our regression model may be used in comparable populations to estimate the background age-specific rate of GBS incidence for future studies.