The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between serum magnesium and TNF-alpha levels in obese subjects. A cross-sectional population based study that included 192 non-diabetic, non-hypertensive subjects allocated in three categories of body mass index (BMI) <25; > or =25 to <30 kg/m2; and > or =30 kg/m2. Elevation of TNF-alpha levels was defined by serum levels > or =3.5 pg/mL, and low serum magnesium by levels < or = 0.74 mmol/L. Multivariate odds ratios (OR) adjusted by age, HOMA-IR index, and glucose tolerance status are presented. Obese subjects exhibited higher serum concentration of TNF-alpha (p = 0.002) and lower serum magnesium levels (p < 0.0001) than lean and overweight subjects. Ninety-one (47.4%) subjects showed elevated levels of TNF-alpha, of them 7 (10.9%), 31 (48.4%), and 43 (67.2%) in the groups with BMI <25, > or = 25 to < 0, and >> or =0 kg/m2, respectively. Multivariate OR between low serum magnesium and TNF-alpha levels in obese subjects was of 1.8, Cl95% 1.2-9.1, P = 0.001, whereas in the lean and overweight individuals of 1.1, Cl95% 0.7-8.7, P = 0.12, and 1.3, Cl95% 0.9-10.8, P = 0.09, respectively. These data shows that low serum magnesium levels and elevated TNF-alpha are related in the obese subjects. It will be necessary to conduct more studies in order to add new data on this issue.