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To examine the association between white blood cell (WBC) count and metabolic syndrome (MetS) by growth periods in black versus white individuals in the general population.The study cohort consisted of 4,184 black and white preadolescents, adolescents, and adults. In this cohort, 743 adults were followed for 8.1–20.8 years longitudinally.White versus black subjects had a significantly higher WBC count in all age-groups. WBC count was associated with more MetS components in whites than in blacks. Mean values of WBC increased significantly with increasing number of MetS components with adverse levels in adolescents and adults, with a stronger trend in whites. WBC count was longitudinally associated with MetS in whites only (P < 0.001).The findings on the association between higher WBC count and MetS beginning in childhood, particularly in whites, underscore a potentially mechanistic link between systemic inflammation, MetS, and cardiovascular risk.