Recent association studies suggest that polymorphisms in the promoter and exon 1 upstream region of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene play a functional role in the development of common psychiatric illnesses, although there are also conflicting results. In this study, we re-sequenced this region to identify all genomic variants, and tested them for association with schizophrenia. A total of 570 Japanese schizophrenic cases with matched controls were studied by genotyping all identified/validated common polymorphisms (−1106T>C, −906T>C, −809G>A, −616G>C, −521T>C, −376C>T, −291C>T and 12-bp repeat) and a known microsatellite (120-bp tandem duplication) in the upstream region. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) −809G>A in the promoter region was found to be significantly associated with disease (P=0.018 and 0.032 for allelic and genotypic comparisons, respectively), although not surviving after Bonferroni correction. Logistic regression analysis showed that a combination of the four polymorphisms, −809G>A, −616G>C, −291C>T and the 12-bp repeat, conferred a susceptibility to schizophrenia. These results suggest that the upstream variants have a primary functional effect in the etiology of schizophrenia in the Japanese population.