A reduced expression of the insulin resistance syndrome, a common neuroendocrine disorder underlying atherosclerosis, may play a role in reduced atherosclerosis in adults with Down syndrome. We compared selected components of the insulin resistance syndrome between 75 adults with Down syndrome and 70 with mental retardation due to other causes. After adjusting for age differences, residence, cigarette smoking, and medication use, women with Down syndrome had lower fasting plasma glucose and lower systolic blood pressure than comparison women. Men with Down syndrome had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than comparison men. Results suggest that women with Down syndrome may be less likely to express the insulin resistance syndrome, and men and women with Down syndrome may possess fewer atherosclerotic risk factors than the comparison groups.