Metabolic syndrome, including obesity, dyslipidaemia, hyperglycaemia and insulin resistance that predisposes type 2 diabetes is a major disease problem around the world and a plethora of herbal medicines are claimed to be effective in controlling these disorders. The rhizome of Zingiber officinale (Zingiberaceae) is commonly used as a spice in various foods and beverages. Apart from its other traditional medical uses, Z. officinale has been used to control diabetes and dyslipidaemia. In the present study, the protective effects of an ethanolic extract of Z. officinale on the development of metabolic syndrome were investigated in a high-fat diet-fed rat model at doses of 100, 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight. The marked rise in body weights, glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, free fatty acids and phospholipids in serum of the rats that followed 6 weeks of high-fat diet treatment were significantly reduced by Z. officinale treatment. However, no significant change in serum HDL cholesterol was observed either with high-fat diet or Z. officinale compared to both control groups. The present results provide scientific evidence to substantiate the traditional use of Z. officinale in preventing metabolic disorders.