To determine, the predictors of incident metabolic syndrome (MetS) in a community-based cohort of West Asians, during a mean follow-up of 9.3 years, a sample of 2858 non-MetS Iranian adults aged ≥ 20 years were examined at baseline and followed at three year intervals during three consecutive phases. The MetS was defined using the joint interim statement. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to determine the independent variables associated with incident MetS. Overall, 1117 new cases MetS were identified resulting in an incidence rate of 550.9/10000 person years (95% CI: 519.5-584.2). The corresponding incidence rates among women and men were 433.5/10000 person years (95% CI: 398.8-471.2) and 749.2/10000 person years (95% CI: 689.9-813.5), respectively. Baseline-adjusted predictors of developing MetS included all of the MetS components, being overweight or obese in both gender, and family history of diabetes and age only in women. There were significant effect modifications of gender on age (P<0.001), high blood pressure (0.026), high waist circumference (P<0001) and obesity categories (all P ≤ 0.01) in multivariate analysis. After considering HOMA-IR in the model, among women, all of the MetS predictors as well as those with HOMA-IR ≥ 2.23 showed a significant risk for incident MetS [HR: 1.63 (1.16-2.28)]; however, among men all the MetS components (WC was marginally significant) as well as the fourth quartile of HOMA-IR [HR: 1.50 (1.03-2.17)] and being overweight showed a significant risk. Finally, in the pooled analysis, we showed that female gender had lower risk for incident MetS than male [HR: 0.58 (0.47-0.70)]. In the Iranian population, high incidence of MetS, especially among men, was shown. Our findings confirmed that sex- specific risk predictors should be considered in primary prevention for incident MetS.