High caffeine consumption has been proposed as a risk factor for osteoporotic fracture, but the evidence associating high caffeine intake with low bone density is inconsistent. We therefore examined the influence of caffeine consumption on bone mineral at six skeletal sites in an age-stratified random sample of white women residing in Rochester, Minnesota. After age adjustment, there was no association between overall caffeine consumption and bone mineral at five of the six sites. In the femoral shaft, however, there was a statistically significant interaction between age and caffeine consumption so that high caffeine intake was associated with slight reductions in bone mineral among elderly subjects but with modestly increased bone mineral at younger ages. When caffeine intake was categorized by source, no consistent influence of coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverage consumption could be detected on bone mineral. Caffeine intake was, however, positively associated with cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. After adjusting for age, caffeine consumption was not correlated with biochemical indices of bone turnover, circulating concentrations of estradiol and estrone, or other dietary and musculoskeletal variables. These data suggest that caffeine intake in the range consumed by a representative sample of white women is not an important risk factor for osteoporosis. Among elderly women, however, in whom calcium balance performance is impaired, high caffeine intake may predispose to cortical bone loss from the proximal femur.