Conditions predisposing to metabolic syndrome (MetS) are associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation. We studied, in vegetarians (n = 90) and omnivores (n = 46), the impact of the dietary regimen on the occurrence of MetS risk factors (RFs: BMI, blood pressure, glucose metabolism and lipid profile) in relation to oxidative status (advanced glycation end products (AGEs), advanced oxidation protein products (AOPPs), malondialdehyde, ferric reducing ability of plasma, vitamins A, E, C, beta-carotene and superoxide dismutase activity) and microinflammation (C-reactive protein, leukocytes and neopterin). The proportion of subjects without/positive for one or two MetS RFs was comparable between the groups. From the components of MetS only immunoreactive insulin levels differed significantly (95% CI: omnivores: 5.0-7.1 microU/mL, vegetarians: 4.5-5.4, p = 0.03). Omnivores had lower AOPP (omnivores: 0.29-0.36 micromol/g albumin, vegetarians: 0.36-0.52, p = 0.01) and beta-carotene levels than vegetarians, they consumed more calories, proteins, fat and saturated fatty acids, and less fibres, beta-carotene and vitamin C. Multiple regression analysis revealed vitamin E and AOPP levels as the most important independent determinants of MetS RFs. The vegetarian diet seems to exert beneficial effects on MetS RFs associated microinflammation. Whether the vegetarian diet may counteract the deleterious effects of elevated AOPPs and AGEs, remains to be elucidated.