Physical activity modifies some postprandial responses such as glycemic control, although it is unclear whether this translates into lower postprandial inflammation. Our objective in this study was to determine whether postprandial inflammatory markers are lower in active compared with sedentary middle-aged men. Thirteen active and twelve sedentary middle-aged men consumed a mixed meal on one occasion. Blood was taken via a cannula before and up to 8 h after the meal and with a single-use needle before and 8 h after the meal. Active men had lower fasted IL-6 (0.6 +/- 0.2 vs. 1.2 +/- 0.3 pg/ml; P = 0.004) and C-reactive protein (1.3 +/- 0.3 vs. 2.9 +/- 0.6 mg/l; P = 0.04) concentrations than sedentary men. Cannula blood IL-6 concentrations increased by 3.49 pg/ml in the 8 h following the meal (P < 0.001); however, this increase was minimal (0.36 pg/ml) in blood taken via a single-use needle from the contralateral arm (P = 0.013). The sedentary group had larger glucose (P = 0.034), insulin (P = 0.013), and triacylglycerol (P = 0.057) responses to the meal. These results provide further evidence that physical activity is associated with lower inflammatory marker concentrations in a fasted state and a lower postprandial metabolic response to a meal. However, this does not translate into lower postprandial inflammatory markers since the only evidence of postprandial inflammation (a large increase in serum IL-6) was actually due to the cannula used for blood sampling.