The diagnosis of hypertension in children is complicated because of the multiple age-, sex- and height-specific thresholds. To simplify the process of diagnosis, blood pressure-to-height ratio (BPHR) was employed in this study. Data were obtained from a Chinese national survey conducted in 2010, and 197 191 children aged 7–17 years were included. High normal and elevated blood pressure (BP) were defined according to the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP) Working Group definition. The optimal thresholds were selected by Youden’s index. Sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value (NPV), positive predictive value (PPV) and area under the curve (AUC) were assessed for the performance of these thresholds. The systolic and diastolic BPHR thresholds for identifying high normal BP were 0.84/0.55, 0.78/0.50 and 0.75/0.46 for children aged 7–8 years, 9–11 years and 12–17 years, respectively. The corresponding thresholds for identifying elevated BP were 0.87/0.57, 0.81/0.53 and 0.76/0.49, respectively. These proposed thresholds revealed high sensitivity and NPVs, all above 0.96, moderate to high specificity and AUCs, and low PPVs. Our finding suggested the proposed BPHR thresholds were accurate for identifying children without high normal or elevated BP, and could be employed to simplify the procedure of screening prehypertension and hypertension in children.