The unification of criteria for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, together with the subsequent World Health Organization (WHO) proposal to eliminate diabetes and cardiovascular diseases from the diagnostic criteria, will change estimates of the known prevalence of this syndrome. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in a health area of Badajoz (Spain) using the latest consensus criteria and eliminating diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We performed a cross-sectional population-wide study of randomly selected individuals aged between 25 and 79 years old in a health area of Badajoz. In all patients, data on their history of cardiovascular risk factors were gathered, waist circumference and blood pressure were measured and a fasting blood sample was collected. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome, following recent criteria, was compared by age and gender. We recruited 2,833 individuals (46.5% men). The mean age was 51.2 years The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 33.6% and was significantly higher in men (36.7% vs 30.9%; p < 0.001). The prevalence of metabolic syndrome fell significantly after exclusion of patients with diabetes or cardiovascular disease (20.8%; p < 0.001). The difference in prevalence between the distinct criteria was significant for the whole population and by sex (p < 0.000). A significant difference in prevalence between genders was observed from the age of 45-54 years in men and 55-64 years in women The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in a health area of Badajoz is among the highest reported in population-based studies in Spain. Although estimates of the prevalence are decreased by the new international recommendations, a considerable proportion of the young population requires preventive measures. Copyright © 2011 SESPAS. Published by Elsevier Espana. All rights reserved.