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Leptin concentrations in body fluids and tissues undergo dynamic changes during the periparturient period. Polymorphisms in the leptin gene have been shown to be associated with differences in leptin concentration during late pregnancy but not during lactation. As the promoter of leptin regulates the expression of leptin, polymorphisms in this region could play an important role in the differences in leptin expression observed during the periparturient period. We sequenced the leptin promoter and discovered 20 SNP in a 1.6-kbp region of the bovine leptin promoter. Fourteen of these SNP were genotyped for all animals and these were found to be associated with leptin concentrations during late pregnancy but not during lactation. Three of these SNP are located in a 135-bp promoter region and together explained 14.3% of the variance in prepartum leptin concentrations which indicates that this region might be important for pregnancy-induced leptin synthesis. In the association study of the 14 SNP with dairy traits three were separately found to be associated with fertility, energy balance and protein yield. These might serve as markers for future breeding programmes for better fertility and energy balance without significantly influencing milk yield in dairy cattle.