Background Mutations of the glucocerebrosidase (GBA) gene have reportedly been associated with Parkinson disease (PD) in various ethnic populations such as Singaporean, Japanese, Formosan, Canadian, American, Portuguese, Greek, Brazilian, British, Italian, Ashkenazi Jewish, southern and southwestern Chinese. The purpose of this study is to determine in central China whether or not the reported GBA mutations remain associated with PD. Methods In this project, we conducted a controlled study in a cohort of 208 central Chinese PD patients and 298 controls for three known GBA mutations (L444P, N370S and R120W). Results Our data reveals a significantly higher frequency of L444P mutation in GBA gene of PD cases (3.4%) compared with the controls (0.3%) (P = 0.007, OR = 10.34, 95% CI = 1.26 - 84.71). Specifically, the frequency of L444P mutation was higher in the late onset PD (LOPD) cases compared with that in control subjects. The N370S and R120W mutations were detected in neither the PD group nor the control subjects. Conclusions Our observations demonstrated that the GBA L444P mutation confers genetic risk for PD, especially LOPD, among the population in the central China area.