Thirty-seven women with established osteoporosis completed a one-year double-blind, placebo-controlled study with the primary aim of examining the effect of nasal salmon calcitonin (200 IU daily) on bone and calcium metabolism. All the women received a daily calcium supplement of 500 mg. For comparison we also report data from an age-matched group of healthy women who did not receive calcium supplementation. The bone mineral measured in the forearm (single photon absorptiometry) and spine (dual photon absorptiometry) showed a similar pattern during treatment. The calcitonin group (n = 17) did not lose bone mineral in comparison with the placebo (n = 20) and the control groups (n = 19) (P less than 0.01). The biochemical estimates of both bone resorption and bone formation decreased highly significantly in the calcitonin group (P less than 0.001) and were unchanged in the control group, whereas the placebo (calcium) group showed intermediate values. Neither subjective nor objective side-effects occurred in any of the groups. We conclude that nasal calcitonin is a realistic treatment of established osteoporosis.