In view of the reported associations between osteoporosis and polymorphisms of the vitamin D receptor (VDR), collagen Ialpha1 (COLIA1) and estrogen receptor (ER) genes, an association study was performed between VDR, COLLIA1, and ER genotypes and bone mineral density, biochemical markers of bone turnover and hip fracture occurrence in Belgian older postmenopausal women. The gene polymorphisms were evaluated by restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses, using the restriction enzymes BsmI (VDR), AccB7I (COLIA1), and PvuII and XbaI (ER), respectively. As expected, bone mineral density and biochemical analyses demonstrated significant differences between hip fracture patients and elderly controls. However, no significant differences in genotype distributions or allele frequencies were observed between the cases (n = 135, age 78 +/- 9 years) and controls (n = 239, age 76 +/- 4 years) for any of the gene polymorphisms. Stratification of both study populations according to VDR, COLIA1 or ER genotype did not reveal any statistically significant difference in bone density or bone turnover between subgroups with different genotypes. In conclusion, despite its limited statistical power the outcome of this study does not support the hypothesis of a major contribution of the VDR, COLIA1 or ER polymorphisms to explain variations in bone mineral density or bone turnover, or to identify elderly women at risk of osteoporotic hip fracture.