Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are the major detoxifying Phase II enzyme for eliminating electrophilic compounds. Mutations in GSTM1, GSTP1 and GSTT1 in Caucasian and GSTA1 in Chinese have been found to reduce enzyme activity. However, data on the impact of common genetic polymorphisms of GSTM1 and GSTP1 on enzyme activity in Chinese is lacking. This study aimed to investigate the effect of common GSTP1 and GSTM1 polymorphisms on erythrocyte GST activity in healthy Chinese (n = 196). GSTM1 null mutation (GSTM1*0) was analyzed by a PCR-Multiplex procedure, whereas GSTP1 313A → G polymorphism (resulting in Ile105Val at codon 105) was analyzed by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. Erythrocyte GST activity was measured using 1-chloro-2,4-dinitro-bezene (CDNB) as the model substrate. The frequency of GSTM1 null genotype was 54.3% and the frequency of GSTP1-Ile/Ile, -Ile/Val, and -Val/Val genotype was 60.7%, 35.2% and 4.1%, respectively, with a frequency of 21.7% for the 105 valine allele. Age, gender and smoking did not significantly affect the erythrocyte GST activities. The mean erythrocyte GST enzyme activity for GSTP1*-Ile/Val genotype group (3.53 ± 0.63 U/g Hb) was significantly lower than that for subjects with GSTP1-Ile/Ile genotype (4.25 ± 1.07 U/g Hb, P = 0.004), while subjects with the GSTP1-Val/Val genotype had the lowest enzyme activity (2.44 ± 0.67 U/g Hb). In addition, the GST activity in carriers of GSTM1*0/GSTP1-Ile/Ile was significantly higher than that of subjects inherited GSTM1*0/GSTP1-Ile/Val or GSTM1*0/GSTP1-Val/Val. However, there is no association between GSTM1 null mutation and reduced enzyme activity. GSTP1 codon 105 mutation led to reduced erythrocyte GST activity in Chinese. A combined GSTP1 and GSTM1 null mutations also resulted in significantly reduced GST activity. Further studies are needed to explore the clinical implications of GSTM1 and GSTP1 polymorphisms.