Variants in G protein-coupled inward rectifier K+ channels 4 (GIRK4 also known as KCNJ5) gene are associated with primary aldosteronism, which is the most common cause of secondary hypertension. The KCNJ5 rs2604204 variant was shown to be common (minor allele frequency = 32.5%) in Chinese patients with essential hypertension (EH). The relationship between KCNJ5 variant and plasma aldosterone (ALD) levels in EH patients has not been reported. We collected 229 patients with newly diagnosed EH without any antihypertensive agents. According to the median standing plasma ALD, high-ALD and control groups were divided. Clinical data and blood samples were collected. KCNJ5 rs2604204 genotype was determined by PCR. The results showed that the levels of triglyceride, uric acid, insulin, insulin resistance (IR) index, renin, angiotensin I (Ang I), angiotensin II (Ang II), cortisol, 24 h mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) and daytime mean SBP were significantly increased in the high-ALD group than those in the control group, as well as 24 h s.d. of SBP and diastolic BP (DBP), and 24 h coefficient of variance of SBP and DBP. Notably, the distribution frequency of AC and CC genotypes, and the C allele of KCNJ5 were also significantly higher in the high-ALD group. Logistic regression analysis showed that the C allele of KCNJ5 rs2604204 was one risk factor for increased plasma ALD in Chinese EH patients (P = 0.008, odds ratio = 2.2 (95% confidence interval 1.2-4.1)). Our findings indicated that the variation of plasma ALD might be associated with increased IR and BP variability. Moreover, KCNJ5 rs2604204 polymorphism was related to increased plasma ALD level, but also plasma renin, Ang I and II levels in newly diagnosed, never-treated EH patients.