Regulation of the balance of osteoblastic and osteoclastic activity is critical for the understanding of normal cell biology and forms the basis of metabolic bone diseases. Our study reports about influences of age and gender on serum levels of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and its association to other clinical parameters of bone metabolism in a precisely determined cohort of 1134 healthy subjects at 17 Austrian outpatient bone clinics, aged between 19 and 96 years (females n = 687, 50 +/- 21 years, 19-94, and males n = 447, 52 +/- 13.5 years, 24-96). Mean OPG serum levels for all participants were 50.83 +/- 51.47 pg/ml (n = 1134; median 36, 2-584) and we observed a sharp increase in females after 60 years and in males after 70 years of age. OPG serum levels increased significantly by age, 2.1 pg/ml in females and 1.9 pg/ml in males for every year (P < 0.0001). Correlation of OPG serum levels and several bone parameters of bone metabolism showed that OPG negatively correlated with serum iPTH (r = -0.14; P < 0.001) and with serum estradiol in females (r = -0.16, P < 0.0001). Bone mineral density measured by DXA method at the spine and at the hip did not correlate with OPG serum levels, except a borderline negative correlation at the trochanteric region (r = -0.1, P < 0.05) in females only. Our results show a significant increase of osteoprotegerin with age in healthy females and males but fluctuations do not predict bone mineral density under in vivo conditions.