Osteoporosis, a major health problem in all Western countries, is a condition in which many dietary factors have been implicated. To determine the influence of diet on bone mass in the proximal femur, the intake of 14 nutrients was measured in 159 Caucasian women, aged 23-75 years and bone mineral density (BMD) quantitated in the hip by dual photon absorptiometry. BMD was also measured in the spine and bone mineral content (BMC) in the forearm by single photon absorptiometry. No significant correlation was found between current calcium intake and bone mass at any site. Iron was a positive predictor of BMD in the femoral neck and alcohol intake a positive predictor of BMD in the trochanteric region of the proximal femur in premenopausal women by multiple regression analysis. Iron, zinc and magnesium intake were positively correlated with forearm BMC in premenopausal women. Iron and magnesium were significant predictors of forearm BMC in premenopausal and postmenopausal women respectively by multiple regression analysis. These results suggest that bone mass is influenced by dietary factors other than calcium.