Genistein is one of the main soy isoflavones in our daily diet. There were studies proving that high-dietary intake of genistein may relate to the low morbidity and mortality of prostate cancer (PCa) in the Asian population. Since there were few studies of plasma genistein level in the Chinese population, we performed this study to preliminarily evaluate the associations among plasma genistein, epidemiologic factors and PCa in a Chinese population. Between 2012 and 2013, 100 men over the age of 40 underwent prostate biopsy for PCa at Huashan Hospital, Shanghai, China. Clinical information, epidemiologic information and blood samples were collected prior to biopsy for each patient. All patients underwent 10-core ultrasound-guided transperineal prostate biopsy, and the pathology results were collected after biopsy. We measured the plasma genistein concentration of the blood samples and analyzed the results along with the clinical and epidemiologic information. Among the 100 patients, 46 (46.0 %) were diagnosed with PCa. The median plasma genistein concentration of non-PCa patients (728.6 ng/ml) was significantly higher than that of PCa patients (513.0 ng/ml) (P < 0.05). In the univariate analysis, we found that age and smoking history were related to PCa (P < 0.05). In the multivariate analysis, we found that age, smoking history and plasma genistein were related to PCa (P < 0.05). The age-adjusted odds ratio of PCa risk comparing plasma genistein level above median to that below median was 0.31 (95 % CI 0.13-0.71). Our study suggested that high concentration of plasma genistein level may contribute to the low incidence of prostate cancer in Chinese population.