BACKGROUND: We aimed to investigate the association between marital status and metabolic syndrome, and observed how their lifestyle may influence within their relationship. METHODS: We analyzed the data from 12,288 Korean men over 20 years old taking a health checkup in a university hospital in Ulsan from March 2008 to February 2009. The subjects were classified as married, unmarried, separated, widowed, and divorced. The odds ratios for metabolic syndrome in each marital status were calculated after adjusting for age, educational level, and family income. In only married men and divorced men, odds ratios were calculated again after adjusting for alcohol intake, smoking, or exercise added to age, educational level, and family income. RESULTS: After adjustment for age, educational level, and family income, the odds ratio for metabolic syndrome in divorced men was 1.48 (95% confidence internal [CI], 1.03 to 2.12; P = 0.03) compared to married men. However, the odds ratios in divorced men decreased to 1.47 (95% CI, 0.97 to 2.24; P = 0.07) after adjusting for alcohol intake added to age, educational level, and family income, 1.42 (95% CI, 0.99 to 2.04; P = 0.06) after adjusting for smoking added, 1.35 (95% CI, 0.93 to 1.96; P = 0.12) after adjusting for exercise added, and 1.37 (95% CI, 0.89 to 2.12; P = 0.15) after adjusting for alcohol intake, smoking, and exercise added. CONCLUSION: Divorced men were likely to have metabolic syndrome compared to married men and this finding may be mediated by their bad lifestyle.