A synthesis of research on the responses of terrestrial biota (1095 effect sizes) to industrial pollution (206 point emission sources) was conducted to reveal regional and global patterns from small-scale observational studies. A meta-analysis, in combination with other statistical methods, showed that the effects of pollution depend on characteristics of the specific polluter (type, amount of emission, duration of impact on biota), the affected organism (trophic group, life history), the level at which the response was measured (organism, population, community), and the environment (biome, climate). In spite of high heterogeneity in responses, we have detected several general patterns. We suggest that the development of evolutionary adaptations to pollution is a common phenomenon and that the harmful effects of pollution on terrestrial ecosystems are likely to increase as the climate warms. We argue that community- and ecosystem-level responses to pollution should be explored directly, rather than deduced from organism-level studies.