Since no information is available on bone derangements in subclinical coeliac disease (CD), we evaluated bone mineral density (BMD, expressed as z score) at lumbar spine, by X-ray dual-photon absorptiometry, and serum indices of bone metabolism and remodeling in 14 subclinical or silent patients, 10 classical patients, and 15 healthy volunteers all on a gluten-containing diet. In the subclinical group, BMD at lumbar spine was significantly higher than in the classical group (-1.3 +/- 0.8, 73% vs. -2.6 +/- 0.6, 88%, respectively; p < 0.001), but significantly lower than in volunteers (+0.4 +/- 1.1, 104%; p < 0.001). Similar changes were observed in serum calcium, whereas, as regards parathyroid hormone, no significant difference was found between subclinical and classical patients. 25-vitamin D was significantly lower, and 1,25-vitamin D was significantly higher in subclinical and classical patients than in healthy volunteers. Indices of bone remodeling were higher in the subclinical and classical groups than in the volunteers, but lower in the subclinical than in classical patients. Eight subclinical and 8 classical patients were reexamined after a period of gluten-free diet (GFD), and in both groups BMD had significantly improved. Our results show that osteopenia is a frequent feature also in subclinical CD, although the extent of bone and mineral metabolism derangements is lower than in classical CD. GFD is able to normalize BMD in subclinical and to significantly improve it in classical patients.