1. The effect of long-term administration of parathyroid hormone (PTH) on whole-body calcium and ash weight of individual bones has been studied in normal and osteoporotic adult female rats in order to examine whether such a treatment could induce a positive calcium balance.
2. Osteoporosis was induced by calcium restriction during pregnancy and lactation. Sequential measurements of whole-body calcium were made by neutron activation.
3. In non-osteoporotic intact and thyroparathyroidectomized rats a daily dose of 75 units of human PTH 1–34 given subcutaneously for 3 weeks increased whole-body calcium.
4. In osteoporotic animals 25–50 units of either bovine PTH 1–84 or human PTH 1–34 given subcutaneously twice daily for 6 weeks increased both whole-body calcium and ash weight of individual bones. Microradiographic examination of the tibiae indicates, however, that PTH administration does not result in the restoration of individual trabeculae lost during the development of osteoporosis.
5. The results show that PTH can enhance skeletal mass in both normal and osteoporotic rats. In osteoporotic animals the restoration of whole-body calcium and ash weight of individual bones is not accompanied by a return of the morphological structure of the tibia to normal.