BACKGROUND: The second derivative of the finger photoplethysmogram (SDPTG) is an indicator of arterial stiffness. The present study was conducted to clarify the factor structure of indices of the SDPTG in combination with components of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), to elucidate the significance of the SDPTG among various cardiovascular risk factors. METHODS: The SDPTG was determined in the second forefinger of the left hand in 1,055 male workers (mean age, 44.2+/-6.4 years). Among 4 waves of SDPTG components, the ratios of the height of the "a" wave to that of the "b" and "d" waves were expressed as b/a and d/a, and used as SDPTG indices for the analysis. RESULTS: Principal axis factoring analysis was conducted using age, SDPTG indices, components of MetS, and the serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and uric acid. Three factors were extracted, and the SDPTG indices were categorized in combination with age as the third factor. Metabolic components and the SDPTG indices were independently categorized. These three factors explained 44.4% of the total variation. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed age, d/a, serum uric acid, serum CRP, and regular exercise as independent determinants of the risk of MetS. The odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 1.08 (1.04 to 1.11), 0.10 (0.01 to 0.73), 1.24 (1.06 to 1.44), 3.59 (2.37 to 5.42), and 0.48 (0.28 to 0.82), respectively. CONCLUSION: The SDPTG indices were categorized in combination with age, and they differed in characteristics from components of MetS or inflammatory markers. In addition, this cross-sectional study also revealed decrease of the d/a as a risk factor for the development of MetS.