This update focuses on the bioavailability of dietary calcium for humans. Fundamentals of calcium metabolism, intestinal absorption, urinary excretion and balance are recalled. Dietary factors, especially lactose and other milk components, influencing calcium bioavailability at intestinal and renal levels are reviewed. A critical examination of all the methods used for evaluating calcium bioavailability is made. This includes in vitro assays, classical and isotopic balances, urinary excretion, isotope labeling in the urine, plasma and bones, long term evaluation of bone mineralization and the use of biological bone markers. Importance and advantages of animal models are discussed. The state of the art in the comparative bioavailability of calcium in foods is detailed including a comparison of sources of calcium (dairy products and calcium salts) in human studies and in some animal studies, casein phosphopeptides, proteins, lactose and lactase and their relation with calcium bioavailability (in humans and rats). An update on the consumption of dairy products and bone mass is presented. Emphasis on peculiarities and advantages of calcium in milk and dairy products is given.