Subjects with abdominal obesity show several signs of a perturbed regulation of the hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This is known to occur after chronic, submissive stress. Perceived environmental stress is depending on personality characteristics. Therefore, personality disorders (PD:s) were examined in relation to HPA axis status, other endocrine and metabolic variables as well as anthropometry. Men (no.=284) aged 51 years, recruited in similar subgroups of low, median and high waist/hip circumference ratio (WHR) from a sample of 1302 men. Measurements of personality disorders by Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R, Axis II (SCID II), body mass index (BMI, weight, kg/height2, m2), WHR and abdominal sagittal diameter (D), dexamethasone suppression test (0.5 mg, salivary measurements of cortisol), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), testosterone and metabolic variables. Men with cluster A (paranoid, schizotypal, schizoid) PD showed an increased BMI, WHR and D, independent of dexamethasone suppression. Testosterone was decreased in these men in relation to a blunted dexamethasone suppression. BMI, WHR and D were increased in men with cluster B (borderline, histrionic, narcissistic) and cluster C (avoidant, dependent, obsessive compulsive, passive aggressive) PD, only in relation to a blunted dexamethasone suppression. Furthermore, IGF-I was low in cluster B. Metabolic variables were differently associated to clusters of PD but generally followed obesity. Path-analytic models suggested that cluster B and C PD were followed by blunted dexamethasone suppression and obesity. Men with cluster A PD showed centralized body fat distribution, independently of dexamethasone suppression. In contrast, men with impulsive (cluster B) and anxious (cluster C) personality disorders seem often to have abdominal obesity only in combination with a blunted dexamethasone suppression test, suggesting a HPA axis disturbance. These results suggest that PD:s are involved in the development of abdominal obesity in men, with different endocrine and metabolic profiles depending on the type of PD. This might hypothetically be due to frequent exposure and/or an increased sensitivity to environmental stress factors, caused by aberrant personalities.