Rats with Metabolic Syndrome (MetaS) have a dysregulated immune response to the aseptic trauma of surgery. We hypothesized that rats with MetaS would have dysregulated inflammation, increased lung injury, and less effective antibacterial defenses during Staphylococcus (S.) aureus sepsis as compared to rats without MetaS. Low capacity runner (LCR; a model of MetaS) and high capacity runner (HCR) rats were challenged intravenously with S. aureus bacteria. After 48 h, inflammatory mediators and bacteria were quantified in the blood, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and lung homogenates. Lungs were analyzed histologically. BALF protein and lung wet-dry ratios were quantified to assess for vascular leak. Endpoints were compared in infected LCR vs HCR rats. LCR rats had higher blood and lung S. aureus counts, as well as higher levels of IL-6 in plasma, lungs and BALF, MIP-2 in plasma and lung, and IL-17A in lungs. Conversely, LCR rats had lower levels of IL-10 in plasma and lungs. Although lactate levels, and liver and renal function tests were similar between groups, LCR rats had higher BALF protein and lung wet-dry ratios, and more pronounced acute lung injury histologically. During S. aureus bacteremia, as compared with HCR rats, LCR (MetaS) rats have heightened pro-inflammatory responses, accompanied by increased acute lung injury and vascular leak. Notably, despite an augmented pro-inflammatory phenotype, LCR rats have higher bacterial levels in their blood and lungs. The MetaS state may exacerbate lung injury and vascular leak by attenuating the inflammation-resolving response, and by weakening antimicrobial defenses.