Men’s involvement in the health of women and children is considered an important avenue for addressing gender influences on maternal and newborn health. The impact of male involvement around the time of childbirth on maternal and newborn health outcomes was examined as one part of a systematic review of maternal health intervention studies published between 2000 and 2012. Of 33,888 articles screened, 13 eligible studies relating to male involvement were identified. The interventions documented in these studies comprise an emerging evidence base for male involvement in maternal and newborn health. We conducted a secondary qualitative analysis of the 13 studies, reviewing content that had been systematically extracted. A critical assessment of this extracted content finds important gaps in the evidence base, which are likely to limit how ‘male involvement’ is understood and implemented in maternal and newborn health policy, programmes and research. Collectively, the studies point to the need for an evidence base that includes studies that clearly articulate and document the gender-transformative potential of involving men. This broader evidence base could support the use of male involvement as a strategy to improve both health and gender equity outcomes.