Systematic investigation with large sample size of the distribution of etiologies of renal artery stenosis (RAS) is scant in both Western countries and China. We retrospectively analyzed the etiology of RAS in 2047 consecutive inpatients diagnosed with RAS for hypertension at Fuwai Hospital between 1999 and 2014. The number of patients with atherosclerosis was 1668 (81.5%), 259 (12.7%) with Takayasu's arteritis (TA), 86 (4.2%) with fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), 34 (1.6%) with other causes. There was an obvious increase with age in the proportion of atherosclerotic RAS (P<0.001). In patients aged ≤40 years (n = 319) the predominant etiology of RAS was TA (60.5%), followed by FMD (24.8%). In patients aged >40 years (n = 1728) the major cause of RAS was atherosclerosis (94.7%), followed by TA (3.8%).The proportion of TA and FMD in female patients was significantly higher than that in male patients (P<0.001). In female patients aged ≤ 40 years (n = 215), the top three etiologies of RAS were TA (68.4%), FMD (27.9%) and atherosclerosis (1.4%). The present analysis showed that atherosclerosis, TA and FMD were sequentially the top three causes of RAS in the National Center of China. Age and gender had a significant effect on the distribution of etiologies of RAS.