The association between consumption of dairy products and the risk of developing metabolic syndrome (MetS) is unclear.The purpose of this study was to evaluate the associations between consumption of dairy products (total and different subtypes) and incident MetS in a Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular disease risk.We prospectively analyzed 1868 men and women (55-80 y old) without MetS at baseline, recruited from different PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) centers between October 2003 and June 2009 and followed up until December 2010. MetS was defined according to updated, harmonized criteria. At baseline and yearly thereafter, we determined anthropometric variables, dietary habits by a 137-item validated food-frequency questionnaire, and blood biochemistry. Multivariable-adjusted HRs of MetS or its components were estimated for each of the 2 upper tertiles (vs. the lowest one) of mean consumption of dairy products during the follow-up.During a median follow-up of 3.2 y, we documented 930 incident MetS cases. In the multivariable-adjusted model, HRs (95% CIs) of MetS for the comparison of extreme tertiles of dairy product consumption were 0.72 (0.61, 0.86) for low-fat dairy, 0.73 (0.62, 0.86) for low-fat yogurt, 0.78 (0.66, 0.92) for whole-fat yogurt, and 0.80 (0.67, 0.95) for low-fat milk. The respective HR for cheese was 1.31 (1.10, 1.56).Higher consumption of low-fat dairy products, yogurt (total, low-fat, and whole-fat yogurt) and low-fat milk was associated with a reduced risk of MetS in individuals at high cardiovascular disease risk from a Mediterranean population. Conversely, higher consumption of cheese was related to a higher risk of MetS. This trial was registered at controlled-trials.com as ISRCTN35739639.