The purpose of this study was to determine whether racial/ethnic differences exist in the relationship between visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and selected inflammatory biomarkers. Subjects included 136 African-American, 133 Hispanic, and 100 white men and women, aged > or =45. Waist circumference and BMI were measured using standard methods. Total VAT, and VAT and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) at the L4L5 spinal level were measured using computed tomography. Interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and fibrinogen were measured from fasting blood samples. Results revealed that waist circumference and BMI were similar among groups but African Americans had significantly lower L4L5 VAT compared with Hispanics and whites. Despite lower VAT, African-American men had similar concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers. On the other hand, African-American women had higher CRP and IL-6 than white women, and higher fibrinogen than both Hispanic and white women. After controlling for L4L5 VAT, L4L5 SAT, and age, African-American women had higher concentrations of IL-6 and fibrinogen. Stratified analyses for CRP indicated that L4L5 SAT was associated with CRP in African-American and white women after controlling for L4L5 VAT and age, but that the reverse was not true. These data indicate that African Americans had lower VAT but similar or higher concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers. African-American women consistently displayed greater inflammation compared with whites, even after controlling for VAT or SAT.