The roles of dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are unclear. The aim of the study was to determine plasma dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) activity and DBH-1021C/T gene polymorphism in combat veterans with (N = 133) or without (N = 34) chronic PTSD. Similar frequencies in genotype or allele distribution were found between veterans with or without PTSD. War veterans with PTSD had lower DBH activity, associated with the DBH-1021C/T variant in DBH genes, than veterans without PTSD. A significantly lower plasma DBH activity was found in combat veterans with PTSD carrying the CC genotype as compared to veterans without PTSD carrying the corresponding genotype. Since both groups were exposed to the same trauma, it is possible that a pre-existing trait difference in regulation of NE function contributed to a differential vulnerability to develop PTSD, or that the regulation of DBH expression was different in response to trauma. The results suggest that that genotype-controlled measurement of plasma DBH activity might be used as a potential biological marker of the response to trauma, and that further studies of DBH and other loci related to DA and NA in PTSD are warranted. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.