The aim of this study was to meta-analyze epidemiological studies and clinical trials that have assessed the effect of a Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome (MS) as well as its components. The Mediterranean diet has long been associated with low cardiovascular disease risk in adult population. The authors conducted a systematic review and random effects meta-analysis of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials, including English-language publications in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials until April 30, 2010; 50 original research studies (35 clinical trials, 2 prospective and 13 cross-sectional), with 534,906 participants, were included in the analysis. The combined effect of prospective studies and clinical trials showed that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced risk of MS (log hazard ratio: -0.69, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -1.24 to -1.16). Additionally, results from clinical studies (mean difference, 95% CI) revealed the protective role of the Mediterranean diet on components of MS, like waist circumference (-0.42 cm, 95% CI: -0.82 to -0.02), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (1.17 mg/dl, 95% CI: 0.38 to 1.96), triglycerides (-6.14 mg/dl, 95% CI: -10.35 to -1.93), systolic (-2.35 mm Hg, 95% CI: -3.51 to -1.18) and diastolic blood pressure (-1.58 mm Hg, 95% CI: -2.02 to -1.13), and glucose (-3.89 mg/dl, 95% CI:-5.84 to -1.95), whereas results from epidemiological studies also confirmed those of clinical trials. These results are of considerable public health importance, because this dietary pattern can be easily adopted by all population groups and various cultures and cost-effectively serve for primary and secondary prevention of the MS and its individual components. Copyright © 2011 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.