Hyperparathyroidism is due to increased activity of the parathyroid glands, either from an intrinsic abnormal change altering excretion of parathyroid hormone (primary or tertiary hyperparathyroidism) or from an extrinsic abnormal change affecting calcium homoeostasis stimulating production of parathyroid hormone (secondary hyperparathyroidism). Primary hyperparathyroidism is the third most common endocrine disorder, with the highest incidence in postmenopausal women. Asymptomatic disease is common, and severe disease with renal stones and metabolic bone disease arises less frequently now than it did 20-30 years ago. Primary hyperparathyroidism can be cured by surgical removal of an adenoma, increasingly by minimally invasive parathyroidectomy. Medical management of mild disease is possible with bisphosphonates, hormone replacement therapy, and calcimimetics. Vitamin D deficiency is a common cause of secondary hyperparathyroidism, particularly in elderly people. However, the biochemical definition of vitamin D deficiency and its treatment are subject to much debate. Secondary hyperparathyroidism as the result of chronic kidney disease is important in the genesis of renal bone disease, and several new treatments could help achieve the guidelines set out by the kidney disease outcomes quality initiative.