In a randomized double-blind study involving 42 postmenopausal women with a displaced Colles' fracture, we investigated whether piroxicam, a nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug, can reduce posttraumatic osteopenia and improve the rate of recovery. In an earlier study  we found a bone-sparing effect caused by piroxicam after external fixation of the rabbit hindleg. The patients were treated with a below-elbow paster slab for 4 weeks after the reduction. The bone mineral content of the forearm bones was measured with a single-photon absorptiometer 8 weeks after the fracture. There was a mean 7% bone mineral decrease in the radius and 5% in the ulna among the patients treated with piroxicam versus 10% in the radius and 7% in the ulna in the placebo group. However, this difference was not significant. Piroxicam did not decrease the rate of fracture healing. The patients who received piroxicam had significantly less pain during plaster treatment, but there was no difference in the rate of functional recovery between the groups.