BACKGROUND: An alpha2-adrenergic receptor (alpha2-AR, ADRA2) mediates induction of hypotension and inhibition of lipolysis and insulin secretion. We evaluated whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of alpha2A (ADRA2A), alpha2B (ADRA2B), and alpha2C (ADRA2C) adrenergic receptors are associated with cerebral white matter lesion (cWML). METHODS: Total 336 study subjects who had no stroke were enrolled in this study. The Indices of cWML include total WML (TWML), periventricular WML (PVWML), and subcortical WML (SCWML) on brain fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) image. Common genetic variants of ADRA2A (1780G>A), ADRA2B (Ins/Del301-303), and ADRA2C (Ins/Del322-325) were examined. RESULTS: Among 336 study subjects, cWML was found in 66 patients (20%). In multivariate analysis, there were no significant effects of all tested ADRA2 polymorphisms on TWML. Significant association of ADRA2A 1780 AA genotype was found in PVWML (OR: 3.368, 95% CIs: 1.280-8.865, adjusted p-value after false discovery rate (FDR) correction=0.014) but not SCWML. CONCLUSION: Although SNPs of three ADRA2 subtypes failed to reach a significance in overall risk for cWML, the ADRA2A 1780G>A polymorphism may be associated with development of PVWML.