We undertook a double-masked, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effect of a calcium and vitamin D supplement and a calcium supplement plus multivitamins on bone loss at the hip, spine and forearm. The study was performed in 240 healthy women, 58-67 years of age. Duration of treatment was 2 years. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured at the lumbar spine, hip and forearm. A dietary questionnaire was administered twice during the study and revealed a fairly good calcium and vitamin D intake (919 mg calcium/day; 3.8 micrograms vitamin D/day). An increase in lumbar spine BMD of 1.6% was observed in the treatment group after 2 years (p < 0.002). In the placebo group no significant changes were observed during the 2 years. Lumbar spine BMD was significantly higher in the treatment group at both 1 (p < 0.01) and 2 years (p < 0.05) compared with the placebo group. Though not significant, the same trend was seen at the hip. No significant changes from baseline values were observed at the distal forearm in either the treatment or the placebo group. In conclusion, we found a significant increase in urinary calcium excretion in the treatment group compared with the placebo group. Together with significant changes in serum calcium and serum parathyroid hormone, this indicates that a long-term calcium and vitamin supplement of 1 g elementary calcium (calcium carbonate) and 14 micrograms vitamin D3 increases intestinal calcium absorption. A positive effect on BMD was demonstrated, even in a group of early postmenopausal age, with a fairly good initial calcium and vitamin D status.