The construction of dams in sub-Saharan Africa is pivotal for food security and alleviating poverty in the region. However, the unintended adverse public health implications of extending the spatial distribution of water infrastructure are poorly documented and may minimize the intended benefits of securing water supplies. This paper reviews existing studies on the influence of dams on the spatial distribution of malaria parasites and vectors in sub-Saharan Africa. Common themes emerging from the literature were that dams intensified malaria transmission in semi-arid and highland areas with unstable malaria transmission but had little or no impact in areas with perennial transmission. Differences in the impacts of dams resulted from the types and characteristics of malaria vectors and their breeding habitats in different settings of sub-Saharan Africa. A higher abundance of a less anthropophilic Anopheles arabiensis than a highly efficient vector A. gambiae explains why dams did not increase malaria in stable areas. In unstable areas where transmission is limited by availability of water bodies for vector breeding, dams generally increase malaria by providing breeding habitats for prominent malaria vector species. Integrated vector control measures that include reservoir management, coupled with conventional malaria control strategies, could optimize a reduction of the risk of malaria transmission around dams in the region.