An increase in arterial stiffness with advancing age is associated with several pathological states, including hypertension and arteriosclerosis. Regular exercise improves the aging-induced increase in arterial stiffness and has a protective effect against these diseases. However, not all individuals respond to exercise to the same extent. Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) is involved in the regulation of basal blood pressure, blood flow, and vascular tone. The present study was designed to clarify whether gene polymorphisms in ANP-related genes affect exercise-induced improvements in arterial stiffness. We performed a cross-sectional study of 291 healthy middle-aged and older Japanese subjects (63+/-1 years), examining the relationship between daily physical activity-induced improvements in arterial stiffness, estimated by brachial-ankle arterial pulse wave velocity (baPWV), and the gene polymorphisms of valine32methionine (V32M: 664G>A) in exon 1 of ANP and asparagine521aspartic acid (N521D: 1780A>G) in exon 8 of the ANP clearance receptor (NPR-C). The baseline baPWV was significantly lower in the active group, but no differences were seen in blood pressure. Active subjects with the ANP-VV genotype had significantly lower baPWV and higher plasma ANP levels compared with inactive subjects, but there were no variations related to the VM+MM genotype. Additionally, baPWV and plasma ANP levels were negatively correlated in ANP-VV genotype subjects, but were not correlated in VM+MM individuals. Our results suggest that ANP polymorphism in older Japanese subjects may affect the cardiovascular response to regular exercise.