The aim of this study was to examine the relationships of short-term weight gain, weight loss, and weight cycling on the odds of developing hypertension. Normotensive middle-aged German men and women (n=12,362) of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam Study were assigned to categories of 2-year short-term weight changes that were self-reported to have occurred prior to recruitment into the study (gain only, loss only, weight cycling, stable). After 2 years of follow-up after recruitment, 180 cases of incident essential hypertension were identified. In logistic regression models, odds ratios were estimated for the associations between short-term weight changes and risk of developing hypertension. Obesity status (BMI>or=30 or BMI<30 kg/m2) modified the associations between short-term weight change and incidence of diagnosed hypertension. Among obese individuals, short-term weight gain occurring during the 2 years prior to recruitment (OR=2.79, 95% CI 1.19-6.56), weight loss (OR=6.74, 95% CI 2.58-17.6) and weight cycling (OR=4.29, 95% CI 1.55-11.9) were strongly positively associated with incident hypertension, adjusted for age and gender, compared to obese individuals with short-term stable weight. No significant associations between short-term weight changes and risk of diagnosed hypertension were detected among non-obese individuals. Short-term weight changes appeared to present strong risk factors for developing hypertension among obese individuals. The effect seen for weight cycling supports the hypothesis that weight cycling increases the risk of hypertension. The finding for short-term weight loss may be explained by subsequent weight regain and needs further investigation.