An animal model of postmenopausal bone loss can be defined as a living animal in which spontaneous or induced bone loss due to ovarian hormone deficiency can be studied, and in which the characteristics of the bone loss and its sequalae resemble those found in postmenopausal women in one or more respects. Although in comparison to humans, the skeletal mass of rats remains stable for a protracted period during their lifespan, rats can be ovariectomized to make them sex-hormone deficient, and to stimulate the accelerated loss of bone that occurs in women following menopause. Ovariectomy induced bone loss in the rat and postmenopausal bone loss share many similar characteristics. These include: increased rate of bone turnover with resorption exceeding formation; and initial rapid phase of bone loss followed by a much slower phase; greater loss of cancellous than cortical bone; decreased intestinal absorption of calcium; some protection against bone loss by obesity; and similar skeletal response to therapy with estrogen, tamoxifen, bisphosphonates, parathyroid hormone, calcitonin and exercise. These wide-ranging similarities are strong evidence that the ovariectomized rat bone loss model is suitable for studying problems that are relevant to postmenopausal bone loss.