The burden of asthma in the elderly is increasing, but the etiology of asthma in the elderly is not clearly understood. Recent studies have reported the epidemiological link between metabolic syndrome (MS) and asthma, but it has rarely been studied in the elderly. This study investigated the association between MS and asthma and the contribution of insulin resistance (IR) and systemic inflammation to this MS-asthma association in the elderly. Our study analyzed 4,060 elderly participants (≥65 years old) from a cross-sectional survey, the Korean National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey 2007-2012. Mediation analyses were performed to examine whether IR and systemic inflammation mediates the MS-asthma association. Participants with MS had significantly higher prevalence of asthma (adjusted odds ratio = 1.34; 95% confidence interval = 1.09-1.64), and those who had greater waist circumference and lower HDL-C were especially likely to have asthma. Participants with IR and systemic inflammation were associated with higher prevalence of asthma. Prevalence of IR and systemic inflammation were higher in participants with MS or with each MS component. The MS-asthma association was substantially mediated by IR and systemic inflammation. Our study showed a significant association between MS and asthma in the elderly. MS might affect asthma through both IR and systemic inflammation.