BACKGROUND: The relationship between depression and the metabolic syndrome is unclear, and whether metabolic syndrome explains the association between depression and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk is unknown. METHODS: We studied 652 women who received coronary angiography as part of the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study and completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Women who had both elevated depressive symptoms (BDI ≥10) and a previous diagnosis of depression were considered at highest risk, whereas those with one of the two conditions represented an intermediate group. The metabolic syndrome was defined according to the ATP-III criteria. The main outcome was incidence of adverse CVD events (hospitalizations for myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, and CVD-related mortality) over a median follow-up of 5.9 years. RESULTS: After adjusting for demographic factors, lifestyle and functional status, both depression categories were associated with about 60% increased odds for metabolic syndrome compared with no depression (p = .03). The number of metabolic syndrome risk factors increased gradually across the three depression categories (p = .003). During follow-up, 104 women (15.9%) experienced CVD events. In multivariable analysis, women with both elevated symptoms and a previous diagnosis of depression had 2.6 times higher risk of CVD. When metabolic syndrome was added to the model, the risk associated with depression only decreased by 7%, and both depression and metabolic syndrome remained significant predictors of CVD. CONCLUSIONS: In women with suspected coronary artery disease, the metabolic syndrome is independently associated with depression but explains only a small portion of the association between depression and incident CVD. Copyright © 2008 by American Psychosomatic Society.