This study assesses whether oxidative stress, using oxidized LDL (ox-LDL) as a proxy, is associated with metabolic syndrome (MS), whether ox-LDL mediates the association between central obesity andMS, and whether insulin resistance mediates the association between ox-LDL and MS. We examined baseline data from 3,987 subjects without diabetes in the Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis (PESA) Study. For the second, third, and fourth ox-LDL quartiles versus the first, the odds ratios (95% CI) for MS were 0.84 (0.52, 1.36), 1.47 (0.95, 2.32), and 2.57 (1.66, 4.04) (P < 0.001 for trend) once adjusted for age, sex, smoking, LDL-cholesterol, BMI, waist circumference, and HOMA-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Results showing the same trend were found for all MS components except glucose concentration. Ox-LDL mediated 13.9% of the association of waist circumference with triglycerides and only 1-3% of the association with HDL-cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin concentration. HOMA-IR did not mediate the association between ox-LDL and MS components. This study found higher ox-LDL concentrations were associated with MS and its components independently of central obesity and insulin resistance. Ox-LDL may reflect core mechanisms through which MS components develop and progress in parallel with insulin resistance and could be a clinically relevant predictor of MS development.