An imbalance in the osteogenesis and adipogenesis of bone marrow-derived stromal cells (BMSCs) is a crucial pathological factor in the development of osteoporosis. Growing evidence suggests that extracellular nucleotide signaling involving the P2 receptors plays a significant role in bone metabolism. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of uridine triphosphate (UTP) on the osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation of BMSCs, and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. The differentiation of the BMSCs was determined by measuring the mRNA and protein expression levels of osteogenic- and adipogenic-related markers, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) staining, alizarin red staining and Oil Red O staining. The effects of UTP on BMSC differentiation were assayed using selective P2Y receptor antagonists, small interfering RNA (siRNA) and an intracellular signaling inhibitor. The incubation of the BMSCs with UTP resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in osteogenesis and an increase in adipogenesis, without affecting cell proliferation. Significantly, siRNA targeting the P2Y2 receptor prevented the effects of UTP, whereas the P2Y6 receptor antagonist (MRS2578) and siRNA targeting the P2Y4 receptor had little effect. The activation of P2Y receptors by UTP transduced to the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) signaling pathway. This transduction was prevented by the mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor (U0126) and siRNA targeting the P2Y2 receptor. U0126 prevented the effects of UTP on osteogenic- and adipogenic-related gene expression after 24 h of culture, as opposed to 3 to 7 days of culture. Thus, our data suggest that UTP suppresses the osteogenic and enhances the adipogenic differentiation of BMSCs by activating the P2Y2 receptor. The ERK1/2 signaling pathway mediates the early stages of this process.