The extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is an extensively applied treatment for musculoskeletal disorders because it promotes bone repair. The aim of this study was to evaluate the direct effect of ESWT on murine osteoblasts to clarify the cellular mechanism that leads to the induction of osteogenesis. Osteoblasts in culture flasks were treated with ESWT pulses (500 impulses of 0.05 mJ/mm(2)) generated by an electromagnetic device. Using western blot analysis 3h after ESWT, an increased expression of Bax was found, indicating a fast pro-apoptotic effect of treatment on some of the osteoblasts. Activation of the cyclin E2/CDK2 is the complex that regulates the G1-S transition and is essential for cell proliferation. It was evident 24 to 72h after treatment, indicating a proliferative stimulus. A decreased expression of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and receptor activator NF kappa B ligand (RANKL) 24 and 48h after ESW, followed by a later increase of OPG, paired with a much smaller increase of RANKL, was evident by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The decreased RANKL/OPG ratio suggests inhibition of osteoclastogenesis. We can conclude that ESWT induces bone repair through the proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts and the reduction of their secretion of pro-osteoclastogenic factors.