Cells have been cultured from human bone that possess several characteristics of osteoblasts, including the capacity to produce osteocalcin (bone Gla protein). In these cultures the production of osteocalcin is dependent on 1,25(OH)2D3 but is not affected by 24,25(OH)2D3 either alone or in combination with 1,25(OH)2D3. Two glucocorticoids, prednisolone and deflazacort, reverse the stimulation of osteocalcin synthesis by 1,25(OH)2D3 in a dose-dependent manner (10(-9) - 10(-6)M). Parathyroid hormone also inhibits osteocalcin production in a dose-dependent fashion (0.2-5 IU/ml). These results demonstrate that human bone cell cultures may be of considerable value in investigating the hormonal and pharmacologic regulation of the production of osteocalcin and other bone proteins in vitro.