The aim of this study was to quantify the global burden of osteoporosis as judged by hip fracture and the burden in different socio-economic regions of the world. The population mortality in 1990 and the incidence of hip fracture in different regions were identified, where possible in 1990. Excess mortality from hip fracture used data for Sweden, and disability weights were assigned to survivors from hip fracture. In 1990 there were an estimated 1.31 million new hip fractures, and the prevalence of hip fractures with disability was 4.48 million. There were 740,000 deaths estimated to be associated with hip fracture. There were 1.75 million disability adjusted life-years lost, representing 0.1% of the global burden of disease world-wide and 1.4% of the burden amongst women from the established market economies. We conclude that hip fracture is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.