1. Calcium balances and formation rates of new bone measured with an improved tracer technique using 85Sr have been determined simultaneously in 21 patients with idiopathic osteoporosis and vertebral crush fractures.

2. A weak positive association was found between calcium balance and the kinetically measured calcium accretion rate, which is the sum of the true rate of bone formation and various long-term exchange processes.

3. The more negative balances were associated with significantly greater early loss of tracer taken up into bone by ‘accretion’, so that long-term (> 200 day) uptake was reduced.

4. This indicates that patients actively losing bone mineral have lower true rates of bone formation and higher rates of long-term exchange than their fellow patients who are more nearly in calcium equilibrium.

5. No statistically significant association was found between measured rates of bone resorption and calcium balance.

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