Of the various risk factors contributing to osteoporosis, dietary/lifestyle factors are important. In a clinical study we reported that women with caffeine intakes >300 mg/day had higher bone loss and women with vitamin D receptor (VDR) variant, tt were at a greater risk for this deleterious effect of caffeine. However, the mechanism of how caffeine effects bone metabolism is not clear. 1,25-Dihydroxy vitamin D(3) (1,25(OH)(2)D(3)) plays a critical role in regulating bone metabolism. The receptor for 1,25(OH)(2)D(3), VDR has been demonstrated in osteoblast cells and it belongs to the superfamily of nuclear hormone receptors. To understand the molecular mechanism of the role of caffeine in relation to bone, we tested the effect of caffeine on VDR expression and 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) mediated actions in bone. We therefore examined the effect of different doses of caffeine (0.2, 0.5, 1.0 and 10mM) on 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) induced VDR protein expression in human osteoblast cells. We also tested the effect of different doses of caffeine on 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) induced alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, a widely used marker of osteoblastic activity. Caffeine dose dependently decreased the 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) induced VDR expression and at concentrations of 1 and 10mM, VDR expression was decreased by about 50-70%, respectively. In addition, the 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) induced alkaline phosphatase activity was also reduced at similar doses thus affecting the osteoblastic function. The basal ALP activity was not affected with increasing doses of caffeine. Overall, our results suggest that caffeine affects 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) stimulated VDR protein expression and 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) mediated actions in human osteoblast cells.