Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are members of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) superfamily with well-described functions in bone formation. Although disrupted BMP signaling in tumor development has been investigated, a genetic association for BMP3 in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) has remained largely unexplored. In this study, we investigated whether BMP3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are associated with the development of PTC and its clinicopathological features. A total of 103 PTC patients and 324 control subjects were enrolled. One promoter SNP (rs13138132; -1919C/A) and one missense mutation (rs3733549; Arg192Gln) in BMP3 were genotyped by direct sequencing. SNPStats, SNPAnalyzer, Helixtree and Haploview version 4.2 were used to evaluate the genetic data. Multiple logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (ORs), 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and P-values. The missense SNP (rs3733549) was weakly associated with the development of PTC in a codominant model (AA vs. GG; P=0.017) and a recessive model (AA vs. GG/GA; P=0.023). Additionally, in an analysis according to clinicopathological features, rs13138132 was significantly associated with extra-thyroidal invasion in a codominant model (CA vs. CC; P=0.006) and a dominant model (CA/AA vs. CC; P=0.0023). We also identified that the frequency of the A allele in the promoter SNP (rs13138132) was increased in PTC patients with extrathyroidal invasion (P=0.004). Our data suggest that rs3733549 in BMP3 is associated with the development of PTC and that the A allele of rs13138932 in BMP3 is a risk factor for extrathyroidal invasion.