Lumbar degenerative disease is the major cause of low back pain. Currently, surgical treatment remains the standard care for lumbar degenerative disease. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy and complications of minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) for the treatment of single-segment lumbar degenerative disease. A total of 75 patients with single-segment lumbar degenerative disease that underwent MIS-TLIF from 2011 to 2014 in Wuxi People’s Hospital were enrolled, while 120 cases undergoing open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (O-TLIF) during the study period were randomly sampled as controls. The duration of surgery, intraoperative blood loss, duration of intraoperative X-ray scan, creatine kinase level, time to first post-surgical ambulation, incidence of post-surgical complications, rate of interbody fusion, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score and Oswestry disability index (ODI) were compared between MIS-TLIF and O-TLIF groups. The mean intraoperative blood loss, time to first post-surgical ambulation and serum creatine kinase level were significantly lower in MIS-TLIF group than in O-TLIF group (P<0.05), while longer duration of surgery and duration of intraoperative X-ray scan were observed in MIS-TLIF group than in O-TLIF group (P<0.001). However, no significant differences were detected in the incidence of postsurgical complications and the rate of interbody fusion one year post-surgery between these two groups (P>0.05). VAS score and ODI significantly reduced one year post-surgery compared to those before surgery in both groups (P<0.05). In conclusion, MIS-TLIF is an effective treatment for lumbar degenerative disease, which alleviates surgical invasiveness, reduces intraoperative blood loss, and accelerates recovery.