Male pattern baldness, which affects two-thirds of men as they grow older, is known to be partly caused by male sex hormones.
However, it seems that smoking also plays a role, with smokers more likely to lose their hair than others.
The study, of more than 700 Taiwansese men aged 40 and over, also revealed that the more a man smokes, the worse his baldness is likely to be.
The researchers, from the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in Taipei, asked the men about the age at which they started losing their hair, whether they had a family history of baldness and about their smoking history.
The men's height and weight were measured, and blood samples analysed.
Analysis of the results showed that the risk of hair loss increased with advancing age, but remained lower than the average risk for Caucasian men.
It also revealed a clear link between smoking and hair loss, with the heaviest smokers being most likely to suffer from male pattern baldness, even when a family history of the condition was taken into account.
Those who smoked 20 cigarettes or more a day were more than twice as likely to have moderate or severe hair loss than those who had never smoked.
The results, published in the journal Archives of Dermatology, showed the risk remained elevated even among those who had quit the habit.
Putting forward reasons for the effect, the researchers said smoking may damage the genetic structure of the hair follicles, the tiny structures responsible for hair growth.
Alternatively, it may harm cells at their roots needed for the circulation of blood and hormones.
Male-pattern baldness, or genetic hair loss, affects an estimated 7.4million British men losing their hair at any one time.
It usually develops very gradually, typically starting with the appearance of a bald spot in the crown of the scalp and thinning of the temples.
Although it can strike at any time, many men first become aware of it as they approach their 30s.
The condition runs in the family, the strongest influence on the mother's side.
This means that if a man's mother's father is bald, they chances are he will also eventually lose his hair.
Despite being a supposed signal of virility, hair loss can have a devastating effect on self-esteem, with younger men being particularly vulnerable to the psychological effects of their changing appearance.
Last, year Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten blamed his mid-life crisis and ensuing sex scandal on losing his hair, Australian newspaper Daily Telegraph reported.
Although there is no cure, there are several tablets and lotions which can help regrowth and some sufferers opt for hair transplants.
Shampoos can help disguise the problem by making hair look thicker and fuller, while experts also advice ditching comb-overs for close crops.