Inflammation-mediated bone loss is a major feature of various bone diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and advanced periodontitis. Enhanced osteoclast development or activity at the inflammation site results in bone resorption. IL-23 is a heterodimeric cytokine belonging to the IL-6/IL-12 family that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and demonstrated to play a role in osteoclastogenesis via stimulation of IL-17 production. In this study we investigated whether IL-23 contributes to the regulation of osteoclast differentiation independent of the IL-17 pathway. We show that IL-23 dose-dependently up-regulates receptor activator of NF-kappaB expression in primary murine bone marrow macrophages and RAW264.7 cells and thereby promotes commitment of myeloid precursor cells to receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand-mediated osteoclastic differentiation. However, IL-23 by itself is insufficient to induce osteoclastogenesis. Increased osteoclastic differentiation of cells was associated with enhanced cathepsin K expression and dentine resorption indicating enhanced formation of functional osteoclasts. IL-17 was not detectable in culture supernatants and when added to cultures, did not promote differentiation of RAW264.7 cells. These results demonstrate that IL-23 can act directly on myeloid precursor cells in addition to indirectly stimulating receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand production in osteoblasts and explains its potency in driving osteoclast development in inflammation-mediated bone pathology.