Systemic inflammation may be implicated in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease (PD). Since PD occurs usually in later life, most studies of causal factors are conducted in older populations, so potentially important influences from early life cannot be adequately captured. We investigated whether the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) in early adulthood is associated with the subsequent development of PD in men. As part of Swedish national conscription testing conducted from 1968 through 1983 (N = 716,550), the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, as a measure of inflammation, was measured in 659,278 young men. The cohort was observed for subsequent PD events (N = 1513) through December 2016. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the hazard ratios (HR) with 95% CI with adjustment for potential confounders. Individuals with higher ESRs were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with PD, as ESR was linearly and inversely associated with PD risk. The magnitude of the association between ESR and PD risk was similar for increases up to 15 mm/h, leveled off thereafter, and was non-significant for ESR values > 20 mm/h. The HR for PD with basic adjustments (age at conscription, year of conscription, test center and erythrocyte volume fraction) was 0.94 (95% CI 0.89-0.99, P = 0.02) per log2 increase in ESR, corresponding to a two-fold increase in ESR. Further adjustments for potential confounders (parental education, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and IQ) scarcely altered the HR. The results suggest a prospective association between high ESR and reduced risk for PD.