Abstract Background High volumes of sitting time are associated with an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and with adverse cardiometabolic risk profiles. However, previous studies have predominately evaluated only total sitting or television (TV) viewing time, limiting inferences about the specific cardiometabolic health impacts of sitting accumulated in different contexts. We examined associations of sitting time in four contexts with cardiometabolic risk biomarkers in Australian adults. Methods Participants (n = 3429; mean ± SD age 58 ± 10 years) were adults without clinically diagnosed diabetes or cardiovascular disease from the 2011–2012 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study. Multiple linear regressions examined associations of self-reported context-specific sitting time (occupational, transportation, TV-viewing and leisure-time computer use) with a clustered cardiometabolic risk score (CMR) and with individual cardiometabolic risk biomarkers (waist circumference, BMI, resting blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol, and fasting and 2-h post-load plasma glucose). Results Higher CMR was significantly associated with greater TV-viewing and computer sitting time (b [95%CI] = 0.07 [0.04, 0.09] and 0.06 [0.03, 0.09]), and tended to be associated with higher occupational and transport sitting time (0.01 [− 0.01, 0.03] and 0.03 [− 0.00, 0.06]), after adjustment for potential confounders. Furthermore, keeping total sitting time constant, accruing sitting via TV-viewing and computer use was associated with significantly higher CMR (0.05 [0.02, 0.08] and 0.04 [0.01, 0.06]), accruing sitting in an occupational context was associated with significantly lower CMR (− 0.03 [− 0.05, − 0.01]), while no significant association was seen for transport sitting (0.00 [− 0.03, 0.04]). Results varied somewhat between the respective biomarkers; however, higher sitting time in each domain tended to be associated detrimentally with individual biomarkers except for fasting glucose (non-significant associations) and systolic blood pressure (a beneficial association was observed). Overall, associations were stronger for TV-viewing and computer use, and weaker for occupational sitting. Conclusions Higher context-specific sitting times tended to be detrimentally associated, albeit modestly, with CMR and several cardiometabolic risk biomarkers. There was some evidence suggesting that the context in which people sit is relevant above and beyond total sitting time. Methodological issues notwithstanding, these findings may assist in identifying priorities for sitting-reduction initiatives, in order to achieve optimal cardiometabolic health benefits.