BACKGROUND: The extent of attributable risks of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its components on mortality remains unclear, especially with respect to age and gender. We aimed to assess the age- and gender-specific population attributable risks (PARs) for cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related mortality and all-cause mortality for public health planning. METHODS: A total of 2,092 men and 2,197 women 30 years of age and older, who were included in the 2002 Taiwan Survey of Hypertension, Hyperglycemia, and Hyperlipidemia (TwSHHH), were linked to national death certificates acquired through December 31, 2009. Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate adjusted hazard ratios and PARs for mortality, with a median follow-up of 7.7 years. RESULTS: The respective PAR percentages of MetS for all-cause and CVD-related mortality were 11.6 and 39.2 in men, respectively, and 18.6 and 44.4 in women, respectively. Central obesity had the highest PAR for CVD mortality in women (57.5%), whereas arterial hypertension had the highest PAR in men (57.5%). For all-cause mortality, younger men and post-menopausal women had higher PARs related to Mets and its components; for CVD mortality, post-menopausal women had higher overall PARs than their pre-menopausal counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: MetS has a limited application to the PAR for all-cause mortality, especially in men; its PAR for CVD mortality is more evident. For CVD mortality, MetS components have higher PARs than MetS itself, especially hypertension in men and waist circumference in post-menopausal women. In addition, PARs for diabetes mellitus and low HDL-cholesterol may exceed 20%. We suggest differential control of risk factors in different subpopulation as a strategy to prevent CVD-related mortality.