Abstract Background To determine the association between circadian pathway genetic variants and the risk of prostate cancer progression. Methods We systematically evaluated 79 germline variants in nine circadian pathway genes in a cohort of 458 patients with localized prostate cancer as the discovery phase. We then replicated the significant findings in another cohort of 324 men with more advanced disease. The association of each variant with prostate cancer progression was evaluated by a log-rank test and Cox regression. Results A single nucleotide polymorphism of the neuronal PAS domain protein 2 (NPAS2) gene (rs6542993 A>T) was found to be associated with a significantly higher risk of disease progression in both localized (P = 0.001) and advanced (P = 0.039) prostate cancer cases. In silico analysis revealed decreased expression levels of NPAS2 in carriers of the T allele of rs6542993 compared with those carrying the A allele. Consistently, downregulation of NPAS2 expression was associated with more aggressive prostate cancer and poor progression-free survival (log-rank P = 0.002). Conclusions The NPAS2 rs6542993 polymorphism may be a promising biomarker, and may shed light on the pathways that govern prostate cancer progression.