Background: To investigate potential associations of serum prolactin concentration (PRL) with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), previously observed in small and selected study samples, in a large population-based cohort.Methods: Data from 3,993 individuals (2,027 women) aged 20-79 years from the population-based Study of Health of Pomerania (SHIP) were used to analyse cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of PRL with MetS and T2DM risk in age- and multivariable-adjusted Poisson regression models. PRL were log-transformed and modelled as continuous (per standard deviation (SD) increase) and categorical predictor (sex-specific quartiles) variable, separately for men and woman.Results: Cross-sectional analyses showed an inverse association between low PRL concentrations and prevalent T2DM risk in men and women after multivariable-adjustment (men: Q1 vs. Q4: relative risk (RR), 1.55; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.13 - 2.14; women: Q1 vs. Q4: RR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.10 - 2.62). Likewise, higher PRL concentrations were associated with significantly lower T2DM risk (RR per SD increase in log-PRL: 0.83; 95% CI, 0.72 - 0.95 in men, and 0.84; 95% CI, 0.71 - 0.98 in women, respectively). An inverse association between PRL and MetS risk was not retained after multivariable adjustment. Longitudinal analyses yielded no association of PRL with incident MetS or T2DM.Conclusion: The present study is the first large population-based study reporting a cross-sectional inverse association between PRL and prevalent T2DM in both genders. But the absent longitudinal associations do not support a causal role of PRL as a risk factor of incident MetS or T2DM.