There are few data on osteoporosis in men, but cross-sectional studies have shown that age-related bone loss in men is of lower magnitude than in women. To elucidate some controversies related partially to methodological aspects, we measured bone mineral density (BMD) by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) at various skeletal sites (spine, hip, and whole body using a Hologic QDR-1500 device; forearm using an Osteometer DTX 100 device) in a large cohort of 1040 men, aged 19-85 years. The final investigation was performed on 934 men, aged 19-85 years, after exclusion of 106 men with disease or treatment known to affect bone metabolism. Peak BMD was achieved at 25 and 29 years at the lumbar spine and hip, respectively, but only at 40 and 37 years at the distal forearm and whole body, respectively. The magnitude of bone loss between peak bone mass and 80 years of age was linear at most sites and averaged 13%-18%; that is, SD of 1.1-1.8 from peak BMD, except for Ward's triangle, which showed a marked bone loss of 43% (i.e., 2.5 SD), and for the lumbar spine. In the entire cohort, increase of the average lumbar spine BMD after the age of 55 years was related to the development of osteoarthritis, because, in men without severe arthritis, lumbar spine BMD continued to decrease. Height-adjusted partial correlations indicate that both the mineral content and the area of long bones of the limbs increased with age up to 50 years, followed by a significant decrease of BMD without change of bone surface. SD of mean BMD increased significantly with age at most skeletal sites. In summary, age-related change of BMD varied according to skeletal site in men with peak bone mass achieved earlier at sites rich in trabecular bone than at those rich in cortical bone. Bone loss varied according to skeletal site from 14% to 43%. The variability of BMD increased with age, which may reflect interindividual variability of age-related bone loss.