We aim to investigate the risk of incident arterial stiffness according to metabolically healthy obese (MHO) phenotype in Chinese population. 37,180 participants with at least one-time measurement of branchial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) were included in the cross-sectional analysis, and 16,236 participants with repeated measurement of baPWV during the follow-ups were included in the longitudinal study. Cross-classification of body mass index (BMI) categories and metabolic health status created six groups. Linear and logistic regression analyses were used. The results of cross-sectional and longitudinal investigation were essentially the same, as the abnormality of baPWV increased with BMI categories in metabolically healthy participants, while the increasing tendency disappeared in metabolically unhealthy participants. A 1.4-fold, 2.2-fold increased risk for the new occurrence of arterial stiffness were documented in MHO and metabolically unhealthy obese participants compared to metabolically healthy normal-weight controls in the fully adjusted model. Further stratified analysis showed that metabolic health status was an interaction factor between BMI and arterial stiffness in all study populations (P=0.0001 for cross-sectional study and P=0.0238 for longitudinal study). In conclusion, metabolic health status and BMI categories contribute to the progression of arterial stiffness, while BMI is positively associated with arterial stiffness only in metabolically healthy participants.