We evaluated the pattern of osteoporosis after spinal cord injury, determined the time-frame of the changes, and elucidated the relationship among parathyroid hormone levels, biochemical markers of bone formation, and the pattern of bone mass loss. We included 176 subjects with spinal cord injury and 62 subjects without spinal cord injury as controls in the study. Bone mineral density of the spine and the proximal femur was measured. The participants' age, level of injury, and length of time since injury were compared with the nonspinal cord-injured controls and with each other. Serum levels of calcium, calcitonin, biochemical markers of bone formation, and parathyroid hormone were determined. Our results revealed that bone mineral density of the proximal femur declined and reached fracture threshold at one to five years after injury. The decline was detected at 12 months after injury in all age groups. Spinal bone mineral density neither declined significantly nor reached fracture threshold. Parathyroid hormone levels declined before the end of the first year postinjury and increased at one to nine years postinjury in the 20- to 39-year age group. The increase correlated with the initial decline of bone mineral density of the proximal femur. Our studies in spinal cord-injured subjects revealed a pattern of osteoporosis similar to age and parathyroid dysfunction-related osteoporosis. No other correlation was detected between indexes of bone metabolism and bone mineral density measurements.