Recent clinical trials have reported favorable early results for transpedicular vertebral cement reinforcement of osteoporotic vertebral insufficiencies. There is, however, a lack of basic data on the application, safety and biomechanical efficacy of materials such as polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA) and calciumphospate (CaP) cements. The present study analyzed 33 vertebral pairs from five human cadaver spines. Thirty-nine vertebrae were osteoporotic (bone mineral density < 0.75 g/cm2), 27 showed nearly normal values. The cranial vertebra of each pair was augmented with either PMMA (Palacos E-Flow) or experimental brushite cement (EBC), with the caudal vertebra as a control. PMMA and EBC were easy to inject, and vertebral fillings of 20-50% were achieved. The maximal possible filling was inversely correlated to the bone mineral density (BMD) values. Cement extrusion into the spinal canal was observed in 12% of cases. All specimens were subjected to axial compression tests in a displacement-controlled mode. From load-displacement curves, the stiffness, S, and the maximal force before failure, Fmax, were determined. Compared with the native control vertebrae, a statistically significant increase in vertebral stiffness and Fmax was observed by the augmentation. With PMMA the stiffness increased by 174% (P = 0.018) and Fmax by 195% (P = 0.001); the corresponding augmentation with EBC was 120% (P = 0.03) and 113% (P = 0.002). The lower the initial BMD, the more pronounced was the augmentation effect. Both PMMA and EBC augmentation reliably and significantly raised the stiffness and maximal tolerable force until failure in osteoporotic vertebral bodies. In non-porotic specimens, no significant increase was achieved.