Interleukin-23 (IL-23)/IL-23 receptor (IL-23R) is essential for Th17 cell-mediated immune response, involved in autoimmune diseases and cancer pathogenesis. Two potentially functional genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs;IL-23Rrs6682925 T>C and rs1884444 T>G) were found to contribute to cancer susceptibility. In our study, we conducted a case–control study including 1,645 patients with esophageal cancer and 1,694 cancer-free controls in a Chinese population to assess the association between the two SNPs and the risk of esophageal cancer. We found thatIL-23Rrs6682925 TC/CC and rs1884444 TG/GG variant genotypes were associated with significantly increased risk of esophageal cancer [rs1884444: adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.16, 95% confidence intervals (CIs) =1.01–1.33; rs6682925: adjusted OR = 1.23, 95% CIs = 1.07–1.42], compared to their corresponding wild-type homozygotes. Furthermore, the increased risks associated with the two SNPs were independent from smoking and alcohol drinking status. These findings indicated that genetic variants inIL-23Rmay contribute to esophageal cancer risk in our Chinese population.