Causes of secondary osteoporosis are diverse, and bone changes in this condition have been elucidated less than those in primary osteoporosis. In this study, bone mineral density (BMD) was measured in the lumbar spine, distal and proximal sites of the radius, and calcaneus in representative disorders that cause secondary osteoporosis to evaluate its changes. Also, the incidence of nontraumatic vertebral fracture was examined. The subjects were 80 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 50 patients undergoing glucocorticoid (steroid) therapy, 20 patients with chronic hepatitis, 24 patients with liver cirrhosis, 14 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), 26 patients with diabetes mellitus, and 20 postgastrectomy patients; all were ambulatory female outpatients. Two hundred females with primary osteoporosis were examined as a control group. The reproducibility of the measurement of the BMD was satisfactory at about 3% by all methods of measurement employed. Concerning changes in BMD, periarticular trabecular bone density was most markedly reduced in the rheumatoid arthritis group. The patients receiving steroid therapy showed the greatest decreases in the trabecular bone mineral density at the distal 4% of the radius and lumbar spinal BMD. In addition, the threshold of vertebral fracture was higher in those undergoing steroid therapy than in those with primary osteoporosis. The patients with PBC showed the greatest decreases in BMD among patients with chronic liver disorders, and no decrease in BMD was noted in the chronic hepatitis group. BMD was reduced only in the radius in the patients with diabetic mellitus, and it was generally reduced in the postgastrectomy patients. BMD of the calcaneus was not reduced in any group.