The metabolic syndrome (MS) is associated with cardiovascular risk exceeding that expected from atherosclerotic risk factors, but the mechanism of this association is unclear. We sought to determine the effects of the MS on myocardial and vascular function and cardiorespiratory fitness in 393 subjects with significant risk factors but no cardiovascular disease and negative stress echocardiographic findings. Myocardial function was assessed by global strain rate, strain, and regional systolic velocity (s(m)) and diastolic velocity (e(m)) using tissue Doppler imaging. Arterial compliance was assessed using the pulse pressure method, involving simultaneous radial applanation tonometry and echocardiographic measurement of stroke volume. Exercise capacity was measured by expired gas analysis. Significant and incremental variations in left ventricular systolic (s(m), global strain, and strain rate) and diastolic (e(m)) function were found according to the number of components of MS (p <0.001). MS contributed to reduced systolic and diastolic function even in those without left ventricular hypertrophy (p <0.01). A similar dose-response association was present between the number of components of the MS and exercise capacity (p <0.001) and arterial compliance. The global strain rate and e(m) were independent predictors of exercise capacity. In conclusion, subclinical left ventricular dysfunction corresponded to the degree of metabolic burden, and these myocardial changes were associated with reduced cardiorespiratory fitness. Subjects with MS who also have subclinical myocardial abnormalities and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness may have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease events and heart failure.