This prospective population-based study assessed predictors of hip fracture risk in white men. Participants were members of the Epidemiologic Follow-up Study cohort of the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized civilians who were followed for a maximum of 22 years. A cohort of 2879 white men (2249 in the nutrition and weight-loss subsample, 1437 in the bone density subsample) aged 45-74 years at baseline (1971-1975) were observed through 1992. Ninety-four percent of the original cohort were successfully traced. Hospital records and death certificates were used to identify a total of 71 hip fracture cases (61 in the nutrition and weight-loss subsample, 26 in the bone-density subsample). Among the factors evaluated were age at baseline, previous fractures other than hip, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol consumption, nonrecreational physical activity, weight loss from maximum, calcium intake, number of calories, protein consumption, chronic disease prevalence, and phalangeal bone density. The risk adjusted relative risk (RR) of hip fracture was significantly associated with presence of one or more chronic conditions (RR = 1.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.19-3.06), weight loss from maximum > or = 10% (RR = 2.27, 95% CI 1.13-4.59), and 1 SD change in phalangeal bone density (RR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.11-2.68). No other variables were significantly related to hip fracture risk. Although based on a small number of cases, this is one of the first prospective studies to relate weight loss and bone density to hip fracture risk in men.