Testing of verbal fluency is currently part of standard presurgical neuropsychological assessment for patients with focal epilepsy. However, to date no systematic review has been conducted on semantic (SVF) and phonemic verbal fluency (PVF) in this patient group. The present review compares verbal fluency between healthy control subjects and subgroups of adult presurgical patients with focal epilepsy according to lateralisation and localisation of the dysfunction. PubMed was searched with a comprehensive search string. Abstracts of all studies and full-texts of potentially relevant studies were screened. Study quality was assessed by independent raters according to predefined criteria. 39 studies were included. Meta-analyses were performed to compare SVF and PVF across groups of patients with temporal (TLE) and frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) as well as healthy controls (HC). Both patients with left- and right sided TLE were impaired on SVF and PVF compared to HC. Patients with left-sided TLE were slightly more impaired than patients with right-sided TLE. Patients with FLE showed a larger impairment in PVF than patients with TLE, whereas on SVF there was no difference between FLE and TLE. For TLE comparisons the study pool seems to have been sufficient, whereas more studies are needed to verify results for FLE. Semantic verbal fluency might not differentiate between FLE and TLE. While verbal fluency impairment was anticipated, especially in left-sided TLE and FLE patients, the impairment in patients with right-sided TLE was larger than expected. Results are discussed with regard to neuropsychological theory and practice.