Objective Patient numbers in individual diabetes trials are often too limited to assess the effect of a treatment by different patient characteristics, and meta-analyses often do not include patient-level data. The purpose of this pooled analysis was to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of exenatide once weekly (EQW) in patients with type 2 diabetes grouped into subpopulations by key demographic characteristics. Methods This post hoc analysis included data from patients who received EQW in seven randomised, controlled phase 3 trials that were 24–30 weeks in duration. Patients were classified into subpopulations on the basis of their baseline age (< 65 or ≥ 65 years), gender (male or female), race (White, Black, Asian, Hispanic), duration of diabetes (< 10 years, ≥ 10 years) and body mass index (BMI; < 25, ≥ 25 to < 30, ≥ 30 to < 35, ≥ 35 to < 40 or ≥ 40 kg/m2). Results A total of 1719 patients were included in this analysis of patient subpopulations. All subpopulations experienced significant improvements from baseline in haemoglobin A1C, fasting glucose and body weight. Most subpopulations experienced significant improvements in blood pressure and lipid parameters. Overall, the most common AEs were hypoglycaemia (16.4% overall; 2.3% in patients not on concomitant sulfonylurea), nausea (14.7%), diarrhoea (10.9%) and nasopharyngitis (7.2%). Conclusion These results show that the treatment of type 2 diabetes with EQW for 24–30 weeks was associated with significant improvements in glycaemic control and body weight, irrespective of age, gender, race, duration of diabetes or BMI. The most common adverse events were gastrointestinal in nature.