In the present study, we characterized and compared the mineral phase deposited in the aortic wall of two different frequently used chronic renal failure rat models of vascular calcification. Vascular calcification was induced in rats by either a 4-week adenine treatment followed by a 10-week high-phosphate diet or 5/6 nephrectomy followed by 6 weeks of 0.25 microg/kg/day calcitriol treatment and a high-phosphate diet. Multi-element mapping for calcium and phosphate together with mineral identification was performed on several regions of aortic sections by means of synchrotron X-ray-mu-fluorescence and diffraction. Bulk calcium and magnesium content of the aorta was assessed using flame atomic absorption spectrometry. Based on the diffraction data the Von Kossa-positive precipitate in the aortic regions (N=38) could be classified into three groups: (1) amorphous precipitate (absence of any diffraction peak pattern, N=12); (2) apatite (N=16); (3) a combination of apatite and magnesium-containing whitlockite (N=10). The occurrence of these precipitates differed significantly between the two models. Furthermore, the combination of apatite and whitlockite was exclusively found in the calcitriol-treated animals. These data indicate that in adenine/phosphate-induced uremia-related vascular calcification, apatite is the main component of the mineral phase. The presence of magnesium-containing whitlockite found in addition to apatite in the vitamin D-treated rats, has to be seen in view of the well-known vitamin D-stimulated gastrointestinal absorption of magnesium.