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Dietary sodium intake is associated with blood pressure and hypertension risk. However, most of the studies have been conducted in whites and it is not clear whether the effects exist in Asian populations.The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of 24-h urinary sodium excretion and hypertension risk among ethnic Chinese.A prospective cohort design on community.One thousand five hundred and twenty middle-aged and elderly participants who were free from hypertension at baseline and had available urine electrolyte data.Hypertension incidence.During a median 7.93 years of follow-up (interquartile range = 4.07–9.04 years), we documented 669 cases of incident hypertension. The multivariate risk was 1.26 (95% confidence interval = 1.01–1.57; P = 0.043) for individuals in the highest quartile of urinary sodium excretion as compared with those in the second quartile. A significant J-shape relationship between urinary sodium excretion and the risk of hypertension was observed, with the test for linear relation being rejected (P = 0.046). Participants who were in the highest quartile of urinary sodium excretion and higher baseline blood pressure had a 2.43-fold increased risk of hypertension (95% confidence interval = 1.72–3.22) compared with those in the lowest quartiles of urinary sodium and lower blood pressure.Urinary sodium excretion was associated with the risk of hypertension among ethnic Chinese. Urinary sodium excretion, as a marker of dietary sodium intake, can be useful for a comprehensive evaluation of hypertension risk in Asian populations.