OBJECTIVE: This study investigated the relation between genetic variations in the dopamine system and facial expression recognition. METHODS: A sample of Chinese college students (n = 478) was given a facial expression recognition task. Subjects were genotyped for 98 loci [96 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 2 variable number tandem repeats] in 16 genes involved in the dopamine neurotransmitter system, including its 4 subsystems: synthesis (TH, DDC, and DBH), degradation/transport (COMT,MAOA,MAOB, and SLC6A3), receptors (DRD1,DRD2,DRD3,DRD4, and DRD5), and modulation (NTS,NTSR1,NTSR2, and NLN). To quantify the total contributions of the dopamine system to emotion recognition, we used a series of multiple regression models. Permutation analyses were performed to assess the posterior probabilities of obtaining such results. RESULTS: Among the 78 loci that were included in the final analyses (after excluding 12 SNPs that were in high linkage disequilibrium and 8 that were not in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium), 1 (for fear), 3 (for sadness), 5 (for anger), 13 (for surprise), and 15 (for disgust) loci exhibited main effects on the recognition of facial expressions. Genetic variations in the dopamine system accounted for 3% for fear, 6% for sadness, 7% for anger, 10% for surprise, and 18% for disgust, with the latter surviving a stringent permutation test. CONCLUSIONS: Genetic variations in the dopamine system (especially the dopamine synthesis and modulation subsystems) made significant contributions to individual differences in the recognition of disgust faces.