Alendronate and estrogen are effective therapies for postmenopausal osteoporosis, but their efficacy and safety as combined therapy are unknown. The objective of this study was to evaluate the addition of alendronate to ongoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the treatment of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. A total of 428 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, who had been receiving HRT for at least 1 yr, were randomized to receive either alendronate (10 mg/day) or placebo. HRT was continued in both groups. Changes in bone mineral density (BMD) and biochemical markers of bone turnover were assessed. Compared with HRT alone, at 12 months, alendronate plus HRT produced significantly greater increases in BMD of the lumbar spine (3.6% vs. 1.0%, P < 0.001) and hip trochanter (2.7% vs. 0.5%, P < 0.001); however, the between-group difference in BMD at the femoral neck was not significant (1.7% vs. 0.8%, P = 0.072). Biochemical markers of bone turnover (serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and urine N-telopeptide) decreased significantly at 6 and 12 months with alendronate plus HRT, and they remained within premenopausal levels. Addition of alendronate to ongoing HRT was generally well tolerated, with no significant between-group differences in upper gastrointestinal adverse events or fractures. This study demonstrated that, in postmenopausal women with low bone density despite ongoing treatment with estrogen, alendronate added to HRT significantly increased bone mass at both spine and hip trochanter and was generally well tolerated.