Theoretically, patients with chronic bronchitis are at risk for osteoporosis. Bone metabolism was assessed in 44 male chronic bronchitics treated with oral prednisolone (C+; n = 19) or with bronchodilatory drugs alone (C-; n = 25). In both groups, serum osteocalcin was lower (p less than 0.001) than in age- and sex-matched controls (mean (ng/ml) C+ 1.0, C- 1.9, controls 4.2), while testosterone was at the lower limit of the reference range. Low trabecular bone mineral density (BMD) was noted in the C- group (median Z score -1.0), but both cortical and trabecular BMD were depressed in the C+ group (-1.0 and -1.4, respectively). In conclusion, chronic bronchitics treated with corticosteroids, even at low doses, are at risk for osteoporosis. In both groups, additional factors such as hypogonadism might be responsible for low BMD and low osteocalcin levels. A decrease in bone formation is a possible mechanism of action.