The apoB/apoA1 ratio has been reported to be associated with the metabolic syndrome (MetS), and it may be a more convenient biomarker in MetS predicting. However, whether apoB/apoA1 ratio is a better indicator of metabolic syndrome than other biomarkers and what is the optimal cut-off value of apoB/apoA1 ratio as an indicator of metabolic syndrome in Chinese population remain unknown. Thus, we carried out the current study to assess the predictive value of apoB/apoA1 ratio and determine the optimal cut-off value of apoB/apoA1 ratio for diagnosing MetS in a Chinese population. We selected 1,855 subjects with MetS and 6,265 individuals without MetS based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria from the China Health Nutrition Survey (CHNS) in 2009. MetS was identified based on the diagnostic criteria of International Diabetes Federation (2005). Logistic regression was used to estimate the association between the apoB/apoA1 ratio and risk of MetS, and receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis was performed to test the predictive value of apoB/apoA1 ratio and calculate the appropriate cut-off value. Compared with the lowest quartile of apoB/apoA1 ratio, subjects in the fourth quartile had a higher risk of MetS in both men [odds ratio (OR) = 2.64, 95% confidence interval (CI) =1.82-3.83] and women (OR = 5.18, 95% CI = 3.87-6.92) after adjustment for potential confounders. The optimal cut-off value of apoB/apoA1 ratio for MetS detection was 0.85 in men and 0.80 in women. Comparisons of ROC curves indicated that apoB/apoA1 ratio was better than traditional biomarkers in predicting MetS. Our results suggest that, apoB/apoA1 ratio has a promising predictive effectiveness in detection of MetS. An apoB/apoA1 ratio higher than 0.85 in men and 0.80 in women may be a promising and convenient marker of MetS.