Background Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders in women of reproductive age, and it is affected by both environmental and genetic factors. Although the genetic component of PCOS is evident, studies aiming to identify susceptibility genes have shown controversial results. This study conducted a pathway-based analysis using a dataset obtained through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to elucidate the biological pathways that contribute to PCOS susceptibility and the associated genes. Methods We used GWAS data on 636,797 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 1,221 individuals (432 PCOS patients and 789 controls) for analysis. A pathway analysis was conducted using meta-analysis gene-set enrichment of variant associations (MAGENTA). Top-ranking pathways or gene sets associated with PCOS were identified, and significant genes within the pathways were analyzed. Results The pathway analysis of the GWAS dataset identified significant pathways related to oocyte meiosis and the regulation of insulin secretion by acetylcholine and free fatty acids (all nominal gene-set enrichment analysis (GSEA) P-values < 0.05). In addition, INS, GNAQ, STXBP1, PLCB3, PLCB2, SMC3 and PLCZ1 were significant genes observed within the biological pathways (all gene P-values < 0.05). Conclusions By applying MAGENTA pathway analysis to PCOS GWAS data, we identified significant pathways and candidate genes involved in PCOS. Our findings may provide new leads for understanding the mechanisms underlying the development of PCOS.