The activities of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in bone are modulated by a family of binding proteins (IGFBPs) whose physiological roles remain poorly understood. We have previously shown that targeted overexpression of IGF-I in osteoblasts of transgenic (OC-IGF-I) mice stimulates bone formation. In this model, bone formation is markedly but transiently increased in an age-dependent manner, raising the possibility that IGF-I may be influencing IGFBPs to in turn modulate its paracrine actions within bone. We sought to characterize the IGFBPs in normal mouse bone during development and to determine whether osteoblast-targeted overexpression of IGF-I influenced bone IGFBP abundance in vivo. Femoral bone IGFBP content was assessed in control nontransgenic and OC-IGF-I mice by I125-IGF-I ligand and immunoblotting. Bone IGFBP-5 and IGF-I mRNA abundance was determined using real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR. Ligand blot of bone extract showed a 30-kDa band, identified as IGFBP-5 by immunoblot, predominated. The abundance of IGFBP-5 declined with age in both control and transgenic bone. Ligand and immunoblot analysis revealed a 5-fold increase in IGFBP-5 protein levels at 3 weeks in transgenic bone (P<0.0001). The elevated IGFBP-5 protein levels were associated with a similar increase in IGF-I mRNA abundance (4-fold, P<0.01) and a significant increase in IGFBP-5 mRNA abundance (1.5-fold). Despite the age-related decline at 6 weeks, IGFBP-5 remained significantly (P<0.01) more abundant in transgenic bone compared to controls. In contrast, bone IGFBP-4 abundance was relatively unchanged by either age or IGF-I overexpression. These studies demonstrate a distinctive developmental pattern of IGFBP-5 content in mouse bone and show that osteoblast-derived IGF-I determines skeletal IGFBP-5 abundance, at least in part by inducing its synthesis. In that IGFBP-5 is thought to stimulate bone formation, directly or via IGF-I action, such changes in bone IGFBP-5 may be important to ensure robust bone acquisition in the early postnatal period.