The association between polymorphisms in the β1, β2 and α2B adrenergic receptor (ADR) genes (ADRB1, ADRB2 and ADRA2B) and resting heart rate was examined in white and African-American participants of the HyperGEN Study. All analyses were adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, alcohol use, smoking status and daily exercise within strata of race, hypertension status and beta-blocker use. The Ser49Gly polymorphism of the β1 ADR was associated with resting heart rate in hypertensive African-Americans and hypertensive whites taking beta-blockers, with carriers of the Gly allele having a higher mean resting heart rate by 2.7 and 4.4 beats per minute (bpm), respectively. The Arg389Gly polymorphism of the β1 ADR was associated with lower heart rate in the normotensive African-American sample. A β1 haplotype (Ser49Gly-Arg389Gly) was modestly associated with resting heart rate in the hypertensive African-Americans. The α2B C/A polymorphism was associated with heart rate in hypertensive whites, and both whites and African-Americans taking beta-blockers, with carriers of the A allele having a higher mean resting heart rate. In summary, each of the ADR gene polymorphisms was associated with heart rate in at least one stratum studied, but there was no consistent association from which one would infer a large genetic contribution to heart rate. © 2006 The Authors Journal compilation 2006 University College London.