Hypertension is a major disease of burden worldwide. Previous studies have indicated that air pollution might be a risk factor for hypertension, but the results were controversial. To fill this gap, we performed a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies to investigate the associations of short-term and long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants with hypertension. We searched all of the studies published before September 1, 2015, on the associations of ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NO2 and NOX), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) with hypertension in the English electronic databases. A pooled odds ratio (OR) for hypertension in association with each 10 μg/m3 increase in air pollutant was calculated by a random-effects model (for studies with significant heterogeneity) or a fixed-effect model (for studies without significant heterogeneity). A total of 17 studies examining the effects of short-term (n=6) and long-term exposure (n=11) to air pollutants were identified. Short-term exposure to SO2 (OR=1.046, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.012–1.081), PM2.5 (OR=1.069, 95% CI: 1.003–1.141), and PM10 (OR=1.024, 95% CI: 1.016–1.032) were significantly associated with hypertension. Long-term exposure (a 10 μg/m3 increase) to NO2 (OR=1.034, 95% CI: 1.005–1.063) and PM10 (OR=1.054, 95% CI: 1.036–1.072) had significant associations with hypertension. Exposure to other ambient air pollutants (short-term exposure to NO2, O3, and CO and long-term exposure to NOx, PM2.5, and SO2) also had positive relationships with hypertension, but lacked statistical significance. Our results suggest that short-term or long-term exposure to some air pollutants may increase the risk of hypertension.