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In the present study, we determined the genotypes of three apelin gene SNPs, namely rs3115757, rs56204867 and rs3761581, as well as two APJ gene SNPs, namely rs7119375 and rs9943582, to assess the associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the apelin and APJ (apelin receptor) genes and the risk of hypertension in people living in the south-east coastal area of China.Inhabitants of four villages in Haidao, Xiapu County, and three villages of Tailu, Lianjiang County, in Fujian Province, China, were included in this cross-sectional study, between July and November 2011. Finally, 556 subjects with hypertension and 475 without hypertension were randomly selected and included. Genotypes of the apelin (rs3115757, rs56204867 and rs3761581) and APJ (rs7119375 and rs9943582) genes were determined by the Taq ManVR MGB probe method.For male patients, the frequencies of mutant alleles in the three apelin gene SNPs were significantly different between the hypertension and control groups (all p < 0.05), while no significant difference was obtained for frequencies of mutant alleles in the two APJ gene SNPs (p > 0.05). For females, the frequencies of mutant alleles in all five SNPs were not significantly different between the hypertension and control groups (all p > 0.05). After adjusting for several factors, the risk of developing hypertension increased significantly in patients, regardless of gender, carrying rs3115757-C, rs56204867-C or rs3761581-A allele (all p < 0.05). The optimal gene-gene interaction model for both males and females with regard to hypertension was apelin rs3761581-apelin rs3115757-APJ rs7119375.Gene polymorphisms of the apelin–APJ system are associated with susceptibility to hypertension.