Recent studies have shown that treatment with bisphosphonates could be effective against the myelomatous skeletal deterioration. However, the mechanisms of action of these drugs in multiple myeloma (MM) have been poorly studied. In the present study, 11 patients with MM and bone lesions were treated orally with 30 mg/day of risedronate for 6 months, and monitored for 6 additional months. Mean serum calcium decreased from day 4, with a concomitant increase in circulating levels of PTH (1-84) and 1,25-(OH)2D. These parameters reached their nadir on day 7 and returned to baseline value during the treatment period. Markers of bone resorption, pyridinoline and deoxypyridinoline decreased from day 7; they were at 50% and 78% of their basal value at the end of treatment and follow-up periods, respectively. A significant reduction of estimates of bone formation (serum alkaline phosphatase and osteoclacin) appeared at month 3 and persisted for the remainder of the 9-month period. Histomorphometric analysis showed a significant reduction of activation frequency, number of osteoclasts and erosion depth. Bone turnover was high at baseline, and normal after treatment, without mineralisation defects. Mean wall thickness was not different before and after treatment. Spinal bone mineral density measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry increased (5.3%) at the end of treatment. We conclude that oral risedronate in multiple myeloma induces a noticeable and rapid inhibition of bone resorption.