OBJECTIVE: Metabolic dysregulation frequently co-occurs with obesity, which has been shown to be a risk factor for lower extremity osteoarthritis (OA). We evaluated the association between metabolic syndrome (MetS), alone and in combination with obesity, and hip OA. METHODS: In two parallel cross-sectional analyses, we studied 403 women from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF) and 2354 men from the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study. We used multivariable logistic regression to evaluate associations of obesity (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m(2) ) and/or MetS (three of five National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria) with clinical hip OA, defined as a modified Croft score of 2 or more or total hip replacement, and pain or limited range of motion. Our analysis adjusted for demographics. RESULTS: Approximately 3.5% of SOF women and 5.4% of MrOS men had clinical hip OA. Among women, obesity was not associated with hip OA, yet those with MetS had a 365% higher odds of hip OA (95% CI: 1.37-15.83). Among men, those who had obesity had a 115% higher odds of hip OA (95% CI: 1.39-3.32), yet MetS was not associated with hip OA. There was no interaction between MetS, obesity, and hip OA in either women or men. CONCLUSION: In women, but not in men, MetS was associated with hip OA. In men, but not in women, obesity was associated with hip OA. These findings suggest that mechanical effects of obesity may predominate in the pathogenesis of hip OA in men, whereas metabolic effects predominate in women.