Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) is both abundant in bone and an important regulator of bone metabolism. A T-->C transition at nucleotide 29 in the signal sequence region of the TGF-beta1 gene results in a Leu-->Pro substitution at amino acid position 10. The possible association of this polymorphism with bone mass and the prevalence of osteoporosis has now been investigated in a total of 287 postmenopausal women from two regions (Obu City, Aichi Prefecture, and Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture) of Japan. A significant association of TGF-beta1 genotype with bone mass was detected in both populations; bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine was greater in individuals with the CC genotype than in those with the TT or TC genotype. The frequency of vertebral fractures was significantly lower in individuals with the CC genotype than in those with the TC or TT genotypes. For each region, multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that the frequency of the T allele was significantly higher in subjects with osteoporosis than in controls. Also, the serum concentration of TGF-beta1 in individuals with the CC genotype was significantly higher than that in age-matched subjects with the TC or TT genotype in osteoporotic or osteopenic as well as healthy control groups. These results suggest that the T/C polymorphism of the TGF-beta1 gene is one of the genetic determinants of bone mass and that the T allele is an independent risk factor for the genetic susceptibility to osteoporosis in postmenopausal Japanese women. Thus, analysis of the TGF-beta1 genotype may be useful in the prevention and management of osteoporosis.