Calcium and vitamin D (1200 mg/day + 800 IU) has been shown to reduce hip fracture incidence in older women living in long-term care facilities who had borderline low vitamin D levels. We examined the effect of a short course of calcium and vitamin D on biochemical markers of bone turnover in older community-living women. Twelve community-living women (mean age 75 years) in good general health, without diseases or on medications known to affect bone, were entered into the study. All women were treated with calcium citrate (1500 mg/day of elemental calcium) and vitamin D3 (1000 IU/day) (Ca + D) for 6 weeks. Biochemical markers of bone turnover were measured in serum and urine collected at baseline (two samples), 5 and 6 weeks on Ca + D, and 5 and 6 weeks after termination of Ca + D. Markers of bone formation were osteocalcin, bone alkaline phosphatase and type I procollagen peptide. Markers of bone resorption were urinary hydroxyproline, free pyridinoline and deoxypyridinoline crosslinks, and N-telopeptides of type I collagen. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D were also measured at baseline, 6 weeks on treatment and 6 weeks after termination of treatment. All markers of bone resorption decreased on Ca + D and returned to baseline after termination of Ca + D (p < 0.05). Markers of bone formation did not change with Ca + D treatment. PTH decreased on Ca + D and returned to baseline after treatment, and 25-hydroxyvitamin D increased with treatment and remained elevated 6 weeks after the end of treatment. We conclude that Ca + D reduces bone resorption in older women, possibly by suppressing PTH levels.