Compressive strength, setting time, hydration heat and hydration product were investigated to evaluate the effects of Zn2+ ion concentrations and the anion of zinc salts on the hydration characteristics of Portland cement paste. The results show that the hydration characteristics of zinc-doped cement pastes depend on Zn2+ ion concentrations and the anion of salts. With the incorporation of ZnCl2, the hydration heat, exothermic rate and the early-age strength of cement pastes were reduced, the arrival time of the highest temperature was delayed, and little negative influences on the compressive strength at 28 days were observed. The total hydration did not decrease incorporating ZnSO4; the hydration exothermic process was delayed. There were little negative influences on the compressive strength of the samples at 3 days and 28 days. Moreover, for the samples with the same Zn concentration, the retardation effect of ZnCl2 samples was stronger than that of ZnSO4 samples.