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Data on blood group phenotypes are important for blood transfusion programs, for disease association and population genetics studies. This study aimed at reporting the phenotypic and allelic distribution of ABO and Rhesus (Rh) groups in various ethnolinguistic groups in the Cameroonians. We obtained ABO and Rhesus blood groups and self-identified ethnicity from 14 546 Cameroonian students. Ethnicity was classified in seven major ethnolinguistic groups: Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Kordofanian/West Atlantic, Niger-Kordofanian/Adamawa-Ubangui, Niger-Kordofanian/Benue-Congo/Bantu/Grassfield, Niger-Kordofanian/Benue-Congo/Bantu/Mbam and Niger-Kordofanian/Benue-Congo/Bantu/Equatorial. ABO allelic frequencies were determined using the Bernstein method. Differences in phenotypic distribution of blood groups were assessed using the chi-square test; a P value <0.05 being considered as statistically significant. The frequencies of the antigens of blood groups O, A, B and AB were 48.62%, 25.07%, 21.86% and 4.45%, respectively. Rhesus-positive was 96.32%. The allelic frequencies of O, A and B genes were 0.6978, 0.1605 and 0.1416, respectively. Phenotypic frequencies of the blood groups in the general study population and in the different ethnolinguistic groups were in agreement with Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium expectations (P > 0.05). The frequencies of O, A, and B blood phenotypes were significantly lower, respectively, in the Nilo-Saharan group (P = 0.009), the Niger-Kordofanian/Benue-Congo/Bantu groups (P = 0.021) and the Niger-Kordofanian/West-Atlantic group. AB blood group was most frequent in the Niger-Kordofanian/Adamawa-Ubangui group (P = 0.024). Our study provides the first data on ethnic distribution of ABO and Rhesus blood groups in the Cameroonian population and suggests that its general profile is similar to those of several sub-Saharan African populations. We found some significant differences in phenotypic distribution amongst major ethnolinguistic groups. These data may be important for blood donor recruitment policy and blood transfusion service in Cameroon.