Chronic low-grade inflammation is linked to a multitude of chronic diseases. We report the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) on C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation, in UK Biobank participants (N = 427,367, European descent) and the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium (total N = 575,531 European descent). We identify 266 independent loci, of which 211 are not previously reported. Gene-set analysis highlighted 42 gene sets associated with CRP levels (p ≤ 3.2 ×10-6) and tissue expression analysis indicated a strong association of CRP related genes with liver and whole blood gene expression. Phenome-wide association study identified 27 clinical outcomes associated with genetically determined CRP and subsequent Mendelian randomisation analyses supported a causal association with schizophrenia, chronic airway obstruction and prostate cancer. Our findings identified genetic loci and functional properties of chronic low-grade inflammation and provided evidence for causal associations with a range of diseases.