Objectives This study aimed to clarify the relationship between the white blood cell (WBC) count and hypertension in the general Japanese population. Methods We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study using annual health check-up data of residents of Iki City, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. A total of 2935 participants without hypertension at baseline were included in the present analysis. WBC counts were classified as tertile 1 ( Result During an average follow-up of 4.5 years, 908 participants developed hypertension. The incidence (per 100 person-years) of hypertension increased with an elevation in the WBC count (6.3 in tertile 1, 7.0 in tertile 2, and 7.4 in tertile 3). This association was significant, even after adjustment for other risk factors, including age, sex, current smoking habits, current alcohol intake, exercise habits, obesity, elevated blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. The hazard ratios were 1.07 for tertile 2 (95% CI 0.90-1.26) and 1.27 for tertile 3 (95% CI 1.06-1.51) compared with the reference group of tertile 1 (p = 0.009). Conclusion The WBC count was associated with future development of hypertension in the general Japanese population.