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Impaired capacity to increase heart rate (HR) during exercise (?HRex), and a reduced rate of recovery post-exercise (?HRrec) are associated with higher cardiovascular mortality rates. Currently, the genetic basis of both phenotypes remains to be elucidated. We conduct genome-wide association studies (GWASs) for ?HRex and ?HRrec in ~40,000 individuals, followed by replication in ~27,000 independent samples, all from UK Biobank. Six and seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms for ?HRex and ?HRrec, respectively, formally replicate. In a full data set GWAS, eight further loci for ?HRex and nine for ?HRrec are genome-wide significant (P?=?5? ?10-8). In total, 30 loci are discovered, 8 being common across traits. Processes of neural development and modulation of adrenergic activity by the autonomic nervous system are enriched in these results. Our findings reinforce current understanding of HR response to exercise and recovery and could guide future studies evaluating its contribution to cardiovascular risk prediction.