There are questions concerning the validity of the metabolic syndrome as a diagnostic entity and whether the syndrome predicts coronary heart disease (CHD) better than global risk stratification. The use of the metabolic syndrome as a potential adjunct to improve global risk stratification has received less attention. The authors evaluated the relationship between the metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease compared with coronary heart disease equivalent. Two hundred thirty-six subjects undergoing elective coronary angiography had bilateral carotid ultrasound studies and global risk scores calculated. Mean total, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride values were normal. The metabolic syndrome was associated with carotid atherosclerosis (odds ratio, 2.3; confidence interval, 1.2-4.2), coronary disease (odds ratio, 2.9; confidence interval, 1.6-5.4), and future cardiovascular events. Rates for future events and coronary and carotid atherosclerosis were similar for subjects with the metabolic syndrome compared with coronary heart disease equivalent. Combined, the two conditions identified 70% of subjects who developed events. The metabolic syndrome is associated with cardiovascular disease and provides additive information to clinical risk stratification.