Insulin resistance is a feature of type 2 diabetes. Resistin, secreted from adipocytes, causes insulin resistance in mice. We previously reported that the G/G genotype of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at −420 (rs1862513) in the human resistin gene (RETN) increased susceptibility to type 2 diabetes by enhancing its promoter activity. Plasma resistin was highest in Japanese subjects with G/G genotype, followed by C/G, and C/C. In this study, we cross-sectionally analyzed plasma resistin and SNPs in the RETN region in 2,019 community-dwelling Japanese subjects. Plasma resistin was associated with SNP-638 (rs34861192), SNP-537 (rs34124816), SNP-420, SNP-358 (rs3219175), SNP+299 (rs3745367), and SNP+1263 (rs3745369) (P<10−13 in all cases). SNP-638, SNP -420, SNP-358, and SNP+157 were in the same linkage disequilibrium (LD) block. SNP-358 and SNP-638 were nearly in complete LD (r2 = 0.98), and were tightly correlated with SNP-420 (r2 = 0.50, and 0.51, respectively). The correlation between either SNP-358 (or SNP-638) or SNP-420 and plasma resistin appeared to be strong (risk alleles for high plasma resistin; A at SNP-358, r2 = 0.5224, P = 4.94×10−324; G at SNP-420, r2 = 0.2616, P = 1.71×10−133). In haplotypes determined by SNP-420 and SNP-358, the estimated frequencies for C-G, G-A, and G-G were 0.6700, 0.2005, and 0.1284, respectively, and C-A was rare (0.0011), suggesting that subjects with A at −358, generally had G at −420. This G-A haplotype conferred the highest plasma resistin (8.24 ng/ml difference/allele compared to C-G, P<0.0001). In THP-1 cells, the RETN promoter with the G-A haplotype showed the highest activity. Nuclear proteins specifically recognized one base difference at SNP-358, but not at SNP-638. Therefore, A at -358 is required for G at −420 to confer the highest plasma resistin in the general Japanese population. In Caucasians, the association between SNP-420 and plasma resistin is not strong, and A at −358 may not exist, suggesting that SNP-358 could explain this ethnic difference.