Purpose: To describe the relationships of selected candidate genes to the prevalence of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a cohort of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Chinese Americans.Design: Cross-sectional study.Methods: setting: Multicenter study. study population: A total of 2456 persons aged 45-84 years with genotype information and fundus photographs. procedures: Twelve of 2862 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 11 of 233 candidate genes for cardiovascular disease were selected for analysis based on screening with marginal unadjusted P value <.001 within 1 or more racial/ethnic groups. Logistic regression models tested for association in case-control samples. main outcome measure: Prevalence of early AMD.Results: Early AMD was present in 4.0% of the cohort and varied from 2.4% in blacks to 6.0% in whites. The odds ratio increased from 2.3 for 1 to 10.0 for 4 risk alleles in a joint effect analysis of Age-Related Maculopathy Susceptibility 2 rs10490924 and Complement Factor H Y402H (P for trend = 4.2×10−7). Frequencies of each SNP varied among the racial/ethnic groups. Adjusting for age and other factors, few statistically significant associations of the 12 SNPs with AMD were consistent across all groups. In a multivariate model, most candidate genes did not attenuate the comparatively higher odds of AMD in whites. The higher frequency of risk alleles for several SNPs in Chinese Americans may partially explain their AMD frequency's approaching that of whites.Conclusions: The relationships of 11 candidate genes to early AMD varied among 4 racial/ethnic groups, and partially explained the observed variations in early AMD prevalence among them.