Background and aims Limited evidence suggests habitual dairy consumption to be protective against metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) and type 2 diabetes among older adults. We assessed the association of baseline consumption of dairy products with the incidence of MetSyn and type 2 diabetes among a cohort of Australian adults aged 49 years and over. Methods and results A validated 145-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire was used to assess food and nutrient intake at baseline. Ten-year incidence of MetSyn and type 2 diabetes were obtained from 1807 and 1824 subjects respectively. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated by discrete time logistic regression modelling. Compared with subjects in the lowest intake quartile of regular fat dairy products, those in the highest quartile had a 59% lower risk of MetSyn (multivariate adjusted OR: 0.41; 95% CI: 0.23-0.71; ptrend = 0.004), after adjustment for risk factors. Among obese subjects, an association between a high intake of regular fat dairy foods and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes was also found (age and sex adjusted OR 0.37; 95% CI: 0.16-0.88; ptrend = 0.030), but the association did not persist after adjustment for additional confounders. There was no association between total dairy consumption and risk of MetSyn or type 2 diabetes. Conclusions We found an inverse association between regular fat dairy consumption and risk of MetSyn among Australian older adults. Further studies are warranted to examine the association between weight status, dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes.