The objective was to determine the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (MS) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Argentina, to assess the factors associated to it, and to compare the results with a control group with non-inflammatory disorders. The study included 147 patients with SLE and 119 controls. MS was defined according to criteria by the American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (AHA/NHLBI) Scientific Statement. Demographic characteristics, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) and Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/ACR Damage Index (SDI) were assessed as well as administration, maximum dose and cumulative dose of prednisone and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). MS prevalence was 28.6% (CI 95%: 21.4-36.6) in patients with SLE and 16% in controls (P = 0.0019). Patients with SLE presented higher arterial hypertension frequency compared with controls (43 vs 25%, P = 0.007). When comparing lupus patients with MS (n = 41) and without MS (n = 106), no significant differences were observed regarding duration of the disease, SLEDAI or cumulative prednisone dose. Cumulative damage was associated independently with MS (OR 1.98; P = 0.021), whereas HCQ use was found to be protective (OR 0.13; P = 0.015). Patients with lupus presented higher MS prevalence than controls with non-inflammatory disorders, and occurrence of arterial hypertension was also higher. MS was associated with cumulative damage; the use of HCQ showed to be protective against presence of MS.