Abstract Leptin, the gene product of the ob gene, is influenced by gender and insulin sensitivity. Because in human hypertension there are important endocrine-hemodynamic gender-dependent differences, we compared plasma leptin in 39 essential hypertensives (EH) and in 27 normotensive healthy subjects (HS) matched for gender, age, and fat mass. Fat mass was measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), plasma leptin by a sensitive radioimmunoassay RIA (intraassay CV < 6%), and insulin sensitivity by the HOMA-R index. Both in essential hypertensives and in normotensive subjects plasma leptin was consistently higher in females than in males and was strictly related to fat mass. Gender differences in plasma leptin were not explained by differences in fat mass. Separate analysis of data by gender showed that leptin was significantly higher ( P < .05) in hypertensive men (median, 5.4 ng/mL; interquartile range, 4.1–9.5) than in normotensive men (4.6 ng/mL, 2.6–7.4) whereas it was identical in hypertensive and normotensive women. In essential hypertensives, in a multiple regression model only fat mass, gender, and the HOMA-R index were independently linked to plasma leptin. Similarly, fat mass and gender were independent predictors of plasma leptin in normotensive subjects. In the combined group of hypertensive and normotensive men, heart rate as well as systolic and diastolic pressure were univariate predictors of leptin. However, in a multivariable model only heart rate was independently related to leptin, and neither systolic nor diastolic pressure contributed significantly to explain the variability in plasma leptin. No relationship was found between leptin and heart rate or systolic or diastolic pressure in women. These results support the notion that leptin may participate in the gender-dependent variability of human hypertension.