Objective: Family members of patients with an established diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are theoretically at risk of having the metabolic syndrome (MetS). A sample of these family members was studied from a population in a small township in Argentina, which has a high prevalence of T2DM. Methods: We examined the clinical and metabolic characteristics of 132 first-degree relatives of T2DM patients (FDR) and 112 age-matched controls. The subjects were categorized according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP-ATPIII) criteria for MetS. Results: The prevalence of MetS in the FDR group was 34.8 (IDF) and 26.5% (NCEP-ATPIII) respectively, which was significantly different to the prevalence in controls (p < 0.025). According to IDF criteria, the most prevalent factors among FDR subjects with MetS were low HDL-cholesterol (87%) followed by hypertriglyceridemia (69.5%). In the MetS group, which ranged between 20-29 years old (36%), the major risk factor in women was a low HDL-cholesterol serum level. In the MetS group, which ranged between 30-39 years old (44.4%), the most important risk factor in men was hypertriglyceridemia. Conclusion: This study revealed that the prevalence of MetS is high in young FDR adults, who need urgent preventive treatment, including lifestyle changes. The risk of developing T2DM is five times higher in nondiabetic people with MetS than in those without the syndrome.