Ascorbic acid is an essential nutrient involved in collagen formation, and its deficiency is associated with abnormal bone development. To examine the relation of ascorbic acid to bone mineral density and the prevalence of self-reported fractures, the authors analyzed data collected from 13,080 adults enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) during 1988-1994. Because they identified three-way interactions among smoking, history of estrogen use, and dietary and serum ascorbic acid in postmenopausal women, they analyzed these relations stratified by smoking and estrogen use. Dietary ascorbic acid intake was independently associated with bone mineral density among premenopausal women (p = 0.002). Among men, serum ascorbic acid was associated in a nonlinear fashion with bone mineral density (p < 0.05), and dietary ascorbic acid intake was associated in a nonlinear fashion with self-reported fracture (p = 0.05). Among postmenopausal women without a history of smoking or estrogen use, serum ascorbic acid was unexpectedly associated with lower bone mineral density (p = 0.01). However, among postmenopausal women with a history of smoking and estrogen use, a standard deviation increase in serum ascorbic acid was associated with a 49% decrease in fracture prevalence (p = 0.001). Dietary and serum ascorbic acid measures were associated inconsistently with bone mineral density and self-reported fracture among adult participants in NHANES III.