Polymorphism of vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene has been found to be associated with serum osteocalcin (OC) levels and bone mineral density (BMD) in Caucasian identical twins and unrelated postmenopausal women. Being ethnically different and living in a geographic area with adequate vitamin D status due to abundant sunshine exposure, it is unclear whether VDR gene polymorphism will affect bone mass in Thai population. In the present study, we investigated the association between VDR gene polymorphism and bone metabolism in Thai postmenopausal women. Subjects consisted of 84 postmenopausal women. Bsm I, Taq I and Apa I polymorphisms of VDR gene were determined by PCR-RFLP. B, T and A represent the absence of the corresponding restriction sites while b, t and a indicate the presence of the restriction sites. Data were expressed as mean +/- SE. Sixty-six subjects (78.6%) had bb genotype while 18 (21.4%) had Bb genotype. None of the subjects was found to have BB genotype. Taq I restriction site was in linkage disequilibrium to the Bsm I site. For Apa I polymorphism, 33 (39.3%), 42 (50.0%) and 9 (10.7%) of the subjects had aa, Aa and AA genotypes, respectively. There was no significant difference in serum intact OC levels and BMD at various skeletal sites among subjects with different genotypes. Despite the lack of difference in BMD and intact OC levels, subjects with bb genotype had higher 24-hour urinary calcium excretion than those with Bb genotype (bb, 6.1 +/- 0.3 mmol/day; Bb, 4.4 +/- 0.6 mmol/day; p < 0.05). The effect of Bsm I VDR genotype was still significant (p < 0.05) after dietary calcium intake was controlled using analysis of covariance. Despite the difference in urinary calcium levels, there was no significant difference in fractional excretion of calcium among subjects with different Bsm I-related genotypes, suggesting that the effect of the VDR gene polymorphism on urinary calcium excretion is more likely due to the effect on intestinal calcium absorption rather than renal tubular calcium reabsorption. We conclude that VDR genotype distributions in Thai postmenopausal women are different from those reported in Caucasians. VDR gene polymorphism does not appear to be associated with BMD or bone turnover in Thai postmenopausal women. However, Bsm I VDR polymorphism may have physiologic role in calcium homeostatasis by modulating intestinal calcium absorption.