Both raloxifene (RLX) and alendronate (ALN) can treat and prevent new vertebral fractures, increase bone mineral density (BMD), and decrease biochemical markers of bone turnover in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. This phase 3, randomized, double-blind 1-yr study assessed the effects of combined RLX and ALN in 331 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (femoral neck BMD T-score, less than -2). Women (aged < or = 75 yr; > or = 2 yr since their last menstrual period) received placebo, RLX 60 mg/d, ALN 10 mg/d, or RLX 60 mg/d and ALN 10 mg/d combined. At baseline, 6 and 12 months, BMD was measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry. The bone turnover markers serum osteocalcin, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, and urinary N- and C-telopeptide corrected for creatinine were measured. The effects of RLX and ALN were considered to be independent and additive if the interaction effect was not statistically significant (P > 0.10) in a two-way ANOVA model. All changes in BMD and bone markers at 12 months were different between placebo and each of the active treatment groups, and between the RLX and RLX+ALN groups (P < 0.05). On average, lumbar spine BMD increased by 2.1, 4.3, and 5.3% from baseline with RLX, ALN, and RLX+ALN, respectively. The increase in femoral neck BMD in the RLX+ALN group (3.7%) was greater than the 2.7 and 1.7% increases in the ALN (P = 0.02) and RLX (P < 0.001) groups, respectively. The changes from baseline to 12 months in bone markers ranged from 7.1 to -16.0% with placebo, -23.8 to -46.5% with RLX, -42.3 to -74.2% with ALN, and -54.1 to -81.0% in the RLX+ALN group. RLX and ALN increased lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD, and decreased osteocalcin and C-telopeptide corrected for creatinine in an additive and independent manner, because the interaction effects were not significant. Although the ALN group had changes in BMD and bone markers that were approximately twice the magnitude as in the RLX group, it is not known how well these changes correlate to the clinical outcome of fracture. RLX+ALN reduced bone turnover more than either drug alone, resulting in greater BMD increment, but whether this difference reflects better fracture risk reduction was not assessed in this study.