This review summarizes available evidence on the role of serum complement component 3 (C3), produced by liver, adipocytes and activated macrophages at inflammation sites, and C3 cleavage products linking lipoproteins and metabolism to immunity. C3 and cleavage products are modified in several associated metabolic disorders including obesity, insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular diseases. Circulating C3 is independently and linearly associated with serum triglycerides. C-reactive protein (CRP), waist circumference and in some populations inversely with current smoking. The complement cascade is activated during myocardial ischemia and likely mediates immune and inflammatory responses in ischemic myocardium. Serum complement activation is elevated in unstable rather than stable angina pectoris suggesting added contribution to damage extension in acute coronary syndromes. In logistic regression models for incident metabolic syndrome (MetS), increasing C3 concentrations predicted MetS in women, after adjusting for continuous values of 3 major MetS components and other confounders, with a relative risk similar in magnitude to an established component suggesting elevated C3 likely constitutes part of the cluster of MetS in women. C3 interacts with MetS in men for independently conferring risk of incident type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD). In women, though C3 is equally predictive of cardiometabolic risk, it is less so additively to MetS components or to CRP. Evidence suggests that circulating C3 might serve as a signal for an immune process that enhances via mediation of increased apolipoprotein (apo) E levels the development of dysfunctional apoA-I particles rendering them diabetogenic and atherogenic in populations prone to MetS or subsets of populations harboring impaired glucose tolerance. C3 activation also leads to production of chemoattractants C3a and C5a, and acylation stimulating protein (ASP. C3adesArg), a lipogenic hormone, which contribute additionally to the metabolic phenotypes generated. These observations have clinical and public health implications. (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier B.V.