Abstract Background Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is one of the most abundant neurotrophins in the adult brain, and it plays important roles in modulating synaptic plasticity and synaptogenesis. This study attempted to elucidate the role of the BDNF variant rs6265 in emotional symptoms following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Methods To investigate the association between BDNF Val66Met polymorphism (rs6265) and emotional symptoms in mTBI patients, we recruited 192 mTBI patients and evaluated their Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores in the first and sixth week after mTBI. Results The patients carrying the T allele of rs6265 had significantly higher BAI scores in the first week following mTBI. In addition, the patients carrying the T allele also showed higher scores of BDI in the first week. In the gender-specific subgroup analysis, the male patients carrying the T allele of rs6265 had higher scores of both BAI and BDI in the first and sixth week. Meanwhile, female patients carrying the T allele also had significantly higher scores of BDI in the first week following mTBI. Conclusions This study provides evidence for the association between the BDNF variant rs6265 and emotional symptoms following mTBI.