This study aimed to explore multiple determinants of BMD (bone mineral density) in 99 women with long-standing type 1 diabetes, recruited from a population based register of insulin users. BMD was measured using DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) at the femoral neck and lumbar spine, age adjusted Z scores were calculated and results compared to those of healthy volunteers. The median age of diabetic subjects was 42 years and the median duration of diabetes was 27 years. BMD was positively associated with body mass index and height at both the lumbar spine and femoral neck. There was a positive association with oral contraceptive pill use and lumbar spine BMD, and peripheral vascular disease was negatively associated with femoral neck BMD. No correlation was seen with either age or duration of diabetes and absolute BMD values. Mean Z score at the femoral neck was -0.12 (95% confidence interval -0.37 to +0.12). At the lumbar spine, the corresponding value was -0.21 (-0.44 to +0.02). Pre- and post-menopausal values for the diabetic subjects and healthy volunteers were found to be similar. In summary, axial BMD values in subjects with long-standing diabetes were similar to those observed in healthy non diabetic populations.