Objective To assess the current use of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). Methods A systematic literature review was performed in PubMed MEDLINE in November 2018, with key words referring to big data, AI and RMDs. All original reports published in English were analysed. A mirror literature review was also performed outside of RMDs on the same number of articles. The number of data analysed, data sources and statistical methods used (traditional statistics, AI or both) were collected. The analysis compared findings within and beyond the field of RMDs. Results Of 567 articles relating to RMDs, 55 met the inclusion criteria and were analysed, as well as 55 articles in other medical fields. The mean number of data points was 746 million (range 2000-5 billion) in RMDs, and 9.1 billion (range 100 000-200 billion) outside of RMDs. Data sources were varied: in RMDs, 26 (47%) were clinical, 8 (15%) biological and 16 (29%) radiological. Both traditional and AI methods were used to analyse big data (respectively, 10 (18%) and 45 (82%) in RMDs and 8 (15%) and 47 (85%) out of RMDs). Machine learning represented 97% of AI methods in RMDs and among these methods, the most represented was artificial neural network (20/44 articles in RMDs). Conclusions Big data sources and types are varied within the field of RMDs, and methods used to analyse big data were heterogeneous. These findings will inform a European League Against Rheumatism taskforce on big data in RMDs.