The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is characterized by a cluster of metabolic disorders including abnormal lipid and lipoprotein metabolism. Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is involved in the regulation of the metabolism of cholesterol, lipoproteins, and triglycerides. The common ApoE polymorphism has been found to be associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This study evaluated the ApoE genetic polymorphism and its relation to MetS defined by the modified National Cholesterol Education Program and International Diabetes Federation criteria in a population-based cross-sectional survey of an elderly Chinese population in Beijing, China. Genotypes of 937 men and 1385 women were included in the study. All participants were measured for blood pressure, anthropometric measurements, and fasting concentrations of glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. We applied a logistic regression model to derive adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals. In this Chinese population, the ε2, ε3, and ε4 allele frequencies were 8.3%, 83.4%, and 8.3% for men and 8.7%, 82.9%, and 8.4% for women, respectively. In men, concentrations of fasting triglycerides were higher among the APOE2 and E4 subjects; and a lower level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was observed in the APOE4 group. There were approximately linear associations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels with APOE genotype groups in both men and women. We observed that the ε4 allele was associated with a significantly increased OR of MetS defined by the modified National Cholesterol Education Program criteria in men (OR, 1.75; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-2.63). In summary, our data show that common polymorphism of ApoE gene is associated with the presence of MetS in an elderly Chinese population.