Strontium ranelate is composed of an organic moiety (ranelic acid) and of two atoms of stable non-radioactive strontium. In vitro, strontium ranelate increases collagen and non-collagenic proteins synthesis by mature osteoblast enriched cells. The effects of strontium ranelate on bone formation were confirmed as strontium ranelate enhanced pre-osteoblastic cells replication. The stimulation by strontium ranelate of the replication of osteoprogenitor cells and collagen as well as non-collagenic protein synthesis in osteoblasts provides substantial evidence to categorise SR ranelate as a bone forming agent. In the mouse calvaria culture system, SR ranelate induces a dose-dependent inhibition of labelled calcium release. The inhibitory effects of SR ranelate on bone resorption were close to those of salmon calcitonin. In the isolated rat osteoclast assay, a pre-incubation of bone slices with SR ranelate induced a dose-dependent inhibition of the bone resorbing activity of a treated rat osteoclast. SR ranelate also dose-dependently inhibited, in a chicken bone marrow culture, the expression of both CA II and the alpha-subunit of the vitronectin receptor. These effects showing that SR ranelate significantly affects bone resorption due to direct and/or matrix-mediated inhibition of osteoclast activity and also inhibits osteoclasts differentiation are compatible with the profile of an anti-resorptive drug. In normal rats, administration of SR ranelate induces an improvement in the mechanical properties of the humerus and/or the lumbar vertebra associated with a commensurate increase in bone dimension, shaft and volume. This was not related to any change in the stiffness, suggesting the absence of a mineralisation defect. After oral administration of SR ranelate in humans, the absolute bio-availability of SR ranelate is 27 % after a dose of 2g is given as sachets. The simultaneous intake of SR ranelate and calcium remarkably reduces the bio-availability of SR. SR ranelate was administered in 160 early postmenopausal women, in a 24-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, prospective randomized study. Daily oral dose of 125 mg, 500 mg, 1 g of SR ranelate were compared to a placebo. At the conclusion of the study, the percent variation of lumbar adjusted BMD from baseline was significantly different in the group receiving 1 g/day of SR as compared to placebo (+ 1.41 % versus 0.98 % respectively). Increase in total hip and neck BMD averages respectively 3.2 % and 2.5 %. SR ranelate does not induce any significant adverse reaction compared to those observed in women receiving a placebo for the same duration. In a phase II study, the effect of SR ranelate in postmenopausal women with vertebral osteoporotic fractures were assessed during a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. SR ranelate (500 mg, 1 g, 2 g per day) or placebo were given to 353 Caucasian women with prevalent osteoporosis. At the conclusion of this two-year study, the annual increase in lumbar adjusted BMD of the group receiving 2 g of SR ranelate was + 2.97 %. This result was significantly different as compared to placebo. A significant decrease in pyridinium crosslinks (NTX) and an increase in bone specific alkaline phosphatase were evident after 3 and 6 months of treatment. During the second year of treatment, the dose of 2 g was associated with a 4 % reduction in the number of patient experiencing a new vertebral deformity. Bone histomorphometry showed no mineralisation defects. The same percentage of withdrawal following an adverse effect was observed for patients receiving placebo and for those receiving 2 g of strontium ranelate. Currently, strontium ranelate is further investigated in a large Phase III program that includes two extensive trials for the treatment of severe osteoporosis, one assessing SR ranelate effects on the risk of vertebral fractures (SOTI) and one evaluating the effects of SR ranelate on peripheral (non spinal) fractures (TROPOS). The primary analysis of the SOTI study, evaluating the effect of 2 g of strontium ranelate on vertebral fracture rates are expected to be released during the summer 2002.