The metabolic syndrome is known to increase cardiovascular morbidity and precede the development of type 2 diabetes. Even before the appearance of hyperglycemia, the components of the metabolic syndrome play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of the macrovascular complications. Thus, the recognition and treatment of the metabolic syndrome may be a strategy to prevent the most likely cause of death (i.e. cardiovascular events) in cases that eventually develop type 2 diabetes. In this review, controversial issues regarding the treatment of the two main components of the metabolic syndrome (i.e dyslipidemia and arterial hypertension) are discussed. Several disparities in the current NCEP-ATPIII recommendations, when applied to patients with the metabolic syndrome, are pointed out. In population-based studies, the number of individuals with the metabolic syndrome who would need LDL cholesterol lowering treatment following these guidelines is remarkably low compared to subjects belonging to the same risk strata (10 year risk 10-20%). Subjects with the metabolic syndrome do not fall into the same risk category, resulting in differing LDL-C targets. Also, the Framingham tables underestimate the cardiovascular risk associated with the metabolic syndrome; hence fewer cases qualify for drug therapy. In addition, LDL-C underestimates the number of atherogenic particles and is therefore not the ideal target for these patients. The selection of antihypertensive medication in the metabolic syndrome is also controversial. Thus, there is sufficient evidence for a review of the current management of the metabolic syndrome as part of a strategy to prevent the macrovascular complications in type 2 diabetes.