Metabolic syndrome (MS) is an increasing public health concern because of rapid lifestyle changes. Although there have been previous studies on the prevalence of MS in China, the prevalence may have changed with lifestyle changes over the last decade. To update this prevalence, we performed a cross-sectional survey among adults over 18 years old across China from May 2013 to July 2014. Participants underwent questionnaires and provided blood and urine samples for analysis. MS was defined according to the criteria of the China Diabetes Society. A total of 12570 individuals (45.2% men) with an average age of 48.8±15.3 (18-96) years were selected and invited to participate in the study. In total, 9310 (40.7% men) individuals completed the investigation, with a response rate of 74.1%. The prevalence of MS in China was 14.39% [95% confidence interval (CI): -3.75-32.53%], and the age-adjusted prevalence was 9.82% (95% CI: 9.03-10.61%; 7.78% in men and 6.76% in women; 7.39% in rural residents and 6.98% in urban residents). The highest prevalence occurred among adults aged 50-59 years (1.95%, 95% CI: 1.40-2.50%), and the lowest prevalence occurred among adults aged 40-49 years (0.74%, 95% CI: 0.38-1.10%); the prevalence was the highest in the south region and lowest in the east region (4.46% and 1.23%, respectively). The results of logistic regression analyses showed that age, urolithiasis, hyperuricemia, coronary artery disease, thiazide drugs intake, family history of diabetes and hypertension were all significantly associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome (OR>1). In addition, education, vitamin D intake and family history of urolithiasis are all protective factors (OR<1). Our results indicate that there was a high prevalence of MS in Chinese adults. Compared to the previous study 10 years ago, some preventive strategies have worked; however, further work on the prevention and treatment of MS remains necessary.