The metabolic syndrome, also known as the dysmetabolic syndrome, syndrome X or the insulin resistance syndrome, refers to the clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors that are present in many individuals who are at increased risk for both cardiovascular events and type 2 diabetes. Prediabetic subjects typically exhibit an atherogenic pattern of cardiovascular risks that is associated with hyperinsulinaemia. Thus, identification of components of the metabolic syndrome is important if patients are to be treated early enough to prevent cardiovascular events and other complications related to diabetes. Therapies targeted to specific components of the metabolic syndrome such as improving glycaemic control, managing dyslipidaemia and reducing the prothrombotic state should help to minimize cardiovascular risk, particularly if initiated early. Traditional pharmacologic agents used to manage the individual components of the metabolic syndrome do not typically impact the other components. The thiazolidinediones, a new class of agents that improve insulin resistance, have the ability, in addition to their glucose-lowering effects, to exert several powerful anti-atherogenic properties, including anti-inflammatory effects in the vascular endothelium, redistribution of visceral fat and reduction of insulin resistance, hyperinsulinaemia and hyperproinsulinaemia. This makes the thiazolidinediones ideal candidates for the early treatment of many components associated with the metabolic syndrome.