Several epidemiologic investigations have found associations between the consumption of red meat and the metabolic syndrome (MetS). Very few studies have looked at populations undergoing the nutrition transition with smaller levels of red meat consumption than those in Westernized countries. In this population-based cross-sectional study, we examined the association between red meat consumption and MetS in Costa Rican adults, a population with comparably lower consumption of red meat. Prevalence ratios (PRs) of MetS across quintiles of total, unprocessed, and processed red meat consumption were estimated with log-binomial regression models among 2058 adults from the Costa Rican Heart Study. Least-squares mean values of individual components of MetS across quintiles of red meat consumption were estimated with linear regression models. We observed a significant positive association between total red meat consumption and MetS (PR for highest compared to lowest quintile: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.42; P for trend = 0.0113) but not for unprocessed or processed red meat consumption when analyzed separately after mutual adjustments. We additionally observed a significant positive association between total, unprocessed, and processed red meat consumption and abdominal obesity. In this Hispanic population undergoing the nutrition transition, total red meat intake may have an impact on MetS. Based on the relatively low consumption of red meat in Costa Rica compared to other Westernized countries, we hypothesize that a "threshold effect" may exist for unprocessed and processed red meat.