Urbanization can be detrimental to health in populations due to changes in dietary and physical activity patterns. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of migration on the incidence of hypertension. Participants of the PERU MIGRANT study, that is, rural, urban and rural-to-urban migrants, were re-evaluated after 5 years after baseline assessment. The outcome was incidence of hypertension; and the exposures were study group and other well-known risk factors. Incidence rates, relative risks (RRs) and population attributable fractions (PAFs) were calculated. At baseline, 201 (20.4%), 589 (59.5%) and 199 (20.1%) participants were rural, rural-to-urban migrant and urban subjects, respectively. Overall mean age was 47.9 (s.d.±12.0) years, and 522 (52.9%) were female. Hypertension prevalence at baseline was 16.0% (95% confidence interval (CI) 13.7-18.3), being more common in urban group; whereas pre-hypertension was more prevalent in rural participants (P<0.001). Follow-up rate at 5 years was 94%, 895 participants were re-assessed and 33 (3.3%) deaths were recorded. Overall incidence of hypertension was 1.73 (95%CI 1.36-2.20) per 100 person-years. In multivariable model and compared with the urban group, rural group had a greater risk of developing hypertension (RR 3.58; 95%CI 1.42-9.06). PAFs showed high waist circumference as the leading risk factor for the hypertension development in rural (19.1%), migrant (27.9%) and urban (45.8%) participants. Subjects from rural areas are at higher risk of developing hypertension relative to rural-urban migrant or urban groups. Central obesity was the leading risk factor for hypertension incidence in the three population groups.