Background: Post-operative delirium (POD) and post-operative neurocognitive disorder (NCD) are frequently seen in the elderly. Development of biomarkers for pre-operative risk prediction is of major relevance. As inflammation present before surgery might predispose to POD and post-operative NCD development, we aim to determine associations between pre-operative C-reactive protein (CRP) and the incidence of POD and post-operative NCD. Methods: In this observational study, we analyzed 314 patients enrolled in the SuDoCo trial, who had a pre-operative CRP measurement the day before surgery. Primary outcomes were POD assessed according DSM-4 from day 1 until day 7 after surgery and post-operative NCD assessed 3 months after surgery. We conducted multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, randomization, body mass index, MMSE, ASA status, infection/autoimmune disease/malignoma and types of surgery to determine associations between CRP with POD and post-operative NCD, respectively. Results: Pre-operative CRP was independently associated with POD [OR 1.158 (95% CI 1.040, 1.291); P =.008]. Patients with CRP values ≥5 mg/dL had a 4.8-fold increased POD risk [OR 4.771 (95% CI 1.765, 12.899; P =.002)] compared to patients with lower CRP values. However, no association was seen between pre-operative CRP and post-operative NCD [OR 0.552 (95% CI 0.193, 1.581); P =.269]. Conclusions: Pre-operative CRP levels were independently associated with POD but not post-operative NCD after three months. Moreover, higher pre-operative CRP levels showed higher risk for POD. This strengthens the role of inflammation in the development of POD. Assessment of CRP before surgery might allow risk stratification of POD. Trial registration: This study was registered with ISRCTN Register 36437985 on 02 March 2009.