Cytoplasmic poly(A) binding protein 4 (PABPC4) is an RNA-processing protein which has an important role in regulating gene expression. The association of the PABPC4 rs4660293 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and serum lipid profiles has, to the best of our knowledge, not previously been studied in the Chinese population. The present study aimed to investigate the association between the PABPC4 rs4660293 SNP and several environmental factors with serum lipid levels in the Mulao and Han populations. A total of 727 individuals of Mulao nationality and 729 individuals of Han nationality were randomly selected from stratified randomized samples from a previous study by our group. Genotypes of the PABPC4 rs4660293 SNP were determined via polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses and subsequently confirmed by direct sequencing. Serum levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and apolipoprotein (Apo) B were higher in the Mulao group than those in the Han group (P<0.01 for each). The genotypic and allelic frequencies of the PABPC4 rs4660293 SNP were significantly different between males and females in the Mulao population (P<0.05 for each), while no significant difference was detected between those of males and females amongst the Han population. The frequency of the G allele was higher in Mulao males than in Mulao females (22.12 vs. 13.44%). The G allele carriers were found to have higher total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and ApoAI levels in Han females but not in Han males, and lower TC and HDL-C levels in Mulao females but not in Mulao males than those of the G allele non-carriers (P<0.05 for all). These associations were confirmed by multiple linear regression analysis (P<0.05‑0.001). Serum lipid parameters were also correlated with multiple environmental factors (P<0.05‑0.001). The PABPC4 rs4660293 SNP was associated with serum TC, HDL-C, LDL-C and ApoAI levels in these study populations; however, the association varied between the Mulao and Han populations. A gender-specific association was identified in the populations of the two ethnic groups.