In rodent osteoporosis models, anabolic activity of parathyroid hormone (PTH) is preserved in the presence of antiresorptive agents. Anabolic activity is also preserved when PTH is administered to estrogenized postmenopausal women. In contrast, in the ewe treated with tiludronate, PTH-induced stimulation of bone turnover did not occur. To determine whether PTH in combination with alendronate could be a viable treatment for osteoporosis, we performed a short-term study of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (n = 10) already on alendronate 10 mg/day to determine whether PTH could increase bone formation assessed biochemically. Patients continued alendronate alone (n = 5) or continued alendronate with 400 IU/day subcutaneous human PTH (1-34) added for 6 weeks. Subjects receiving PTH had serum and urine sampling weekly during PTH treatment and for 5 weeks thereafter. Sampling was performed approximately biweekly for subjects who had been on alendronate alone for 11 weeks. Samples were analyzed for osteocalcin (OC), propeptide of type I procollagen (PICP), bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP), cross-linked urinary N-telopeptide (NTX), and free urinary pyridinoline (PYD). Markers of bone formation increased within 3 weeks in the PTH plus alendronate group, with mean peak levels at 5-7 weeks: OC 49%, p < 0.01; PICP 61%, p < 0.01; and BSAP 24%, p = 0.12. Levels returned to baseline after discontinuing PTH, with PICP declining the most rapidly. There were no significant changes at any time in the alendronate alone group. There were no increments in either urinary NTX or PYD in either treatment group throughout the observation period. The bone turnover marker changes seen with PTH plus alendronate were similar to those seen with PTH plus hormone replacement. These data suggest that: PTH can stimulate bone formation, evidenced by elevations of bone formation markers, even in the presence of a potent bisphosphonate; in the presence of alendronate, PTH-stimulated bone formation precedes stimulation of bone resorption, suggesting that PTH stimulates bone formation de novo; and the combination of PTH and alendronate may be a viable treatment option for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.