The osteopenia associated with experimental inflammatory arthritis was studied by a histomorphometric method that exphasized net changes in bone composition. Juxtaarticular trabecular bone volume and turnover were studied in the carrageenan injection model of inflammatory arthritis of the mature rabbit knee. Trabecular bone volume was studied by histomorphometry of the femoral condyles and confirmed by photodensitometry on standard macroradiographs. Osteogenesis was studied by imaging of calcein fluorochrome-labeled newly formed bone in undecalcified histological sections. A significant net loss of cancellous bone (approximately 20%) occurred over 49 days in both the medial and the lateral femoral condyle in the arthritis group compared with normal controls. Total osteogenesis was increased fourfold and it was calculated that an even greater increase in total bone resorption was responsible for the negative bone balance. There is evidence that the periarticular bone loss of human rheumatoid arthritis is also associated with increased bone turnover. Quantitative studies of the kinetics of bone remodeling in inflammatory arthritis will provide the basis for therapeutic attempts to prevent or reverse arthritis-induced bone loss. Fracture risk in inflammatory arthritis may be increased not only by osteopenia, but additionally by the presence of a large proportion of newly formed (and presumably less mineralized) bone.