A new theory relating bone morphology to applied stress is used to predict the apparent density distribution in the femoral head and neck. Cancellous bone is modeled as a self-optimizing material and cortical bone as a saturated (maximum possible bone density) response to stress in the bone tissue. Three different approaches are implemented relating bone apparent density to: (1) the von Mises stress, (2) the strain energy density in the mineralized tissue and (3) a defined closed effective stress (spherical stress). An iterative nonlinear three-dimensional finite element model is used to predict the apparent density distribution in the femoral head and neck for each of the three approaches. It is shown that the von Mises stress (an open effective stress) cannot accurately predict bone apparent density. It is shown that strain energy density and the defined closed effective stress can predict apparent density and that they give predictions consistent with the observed density pattern in the femoral head and neck.