Human SERPINB5, commonly known as maspin, has diverse functions as a tumor suppressor. In this study, we discovered that maspin has a novel role in cell cycle control, and common variants were discovered to be associated with gastric cancer. The genotypes of 836 unrelated Korean participants (including 430 with gastric cancer) were examined for 12 tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and imputed for 178 SNPs in the maspin gene. Susceptibility to diffuse-type gastric cancer was strongly and significantly associated with several SNPs including rs3744941 (C > T) in the promoter (TT versus CCCT, odds ratio 0.56 [0.370.83], P 0.0038) and rs8089104 (C > T) in intron 1 (TTCT versus CC, odds ratio 1.7 [1.22.5], P 0.0021). No SNPs were associated with susceptibility to intestinal-type gastric cancer. A haplotype of three highly correlated promoter SNPs associated with higher cancer risk showed 40% of the activity of a non-risk-associated haplotype promoter in the diffuse-type gastric cancer cell line MKN45. Maspin downregulation achieved either by a short hairpin RNA targeting maspin or overexpression of the E2F1-DP1 complex in MKN45 cells dramatically accelerated cell cycle progression and caused an increase of active CDC25C levels and a decrease of inactive CDK1 levels. In contrast, maspin upregulation had the opposite effect, substantially retarding cell proliferation. Therefore, our results suggest that a maspin promoter haplotype that reduces maspin gene expression accelerates cell cycle progression and, consequently, is associated with increased susceptibility to diffuse-type gastric cancer. Furthermore, a novel maspin-related pathway is demonstrated to underlie gastric carcinogenesis.