Previous research has demonstrated that adipokines influence blood pressure (BP). Limited data exist in healthy adolescents, who are in a critical period for preventing the development of high BP. This study investigated the association of leptin, adiponectin and the leptin-to-adiponectin ratio (LAR) with BP in rural Chinese adolescents. This report included 1245 adolescents (average body mass index: 19.3 kg m(-2)) aged 13-21 years from an established twin cohort. We examined gender-specific associations between plasma adipokines and BP, with adjustment for measures of adiposity and insulin resistance (IR). We estimated the genetic contribution to adipokines using the twin design and Cholesky decomposition models. There was no correlation between leptin and adiponectin levels. Leptin was positively associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP) in males and diastolic blood pressure in females, but the association disappeared after adjusting for adiposity and IR. LAR was positively associated with SBP (beta(s.e.): 1.94(0.45)), P<0.01), adiponectin was negatively associated with SBP (beta(s.e.): -2.18(0.63)), P<0.001) only in males, and such associations were independent of adiposity and IR. A test of gender x adiponectin interaction was significant (P=0.01). Heritability estimation showed that both environmental and genetic factors contribute to variance in adipokines. In these relatively lean Chinese adolescents, leptin was positively associated with BP in both genders, but was adiposity/IR dependent. Adiponectin was negatively associated with SBP in males, independent of adiposity/IR.