Ovariectomy (OVX) in rats results in increased bone turnover and decreased bone volume and bone mineral density when measured in the metaphyses of long bones. We have investigated the effects of OVX on changes in the number of progenitors in cell populations derived from the metaphyseal bone of femurs of ovariectomized rats at 12 months of age, by using colony assays, bone nodule assays, and limiting dilution analysis at 1.5 and 9 months post-OVX. We have also measured histomorphometric parameters of bone formation and resorption in the corresponding tibia at the same time-points. A significant increase, as shown by bone nodule assays and limiting dilution analysis, occurs in the number of progesterone- and dexamethasone-responsive osteoprogenitors in cell populations isolated from ovariectomized rats at the 9-month post-OVX time-point. Progesterone-responsive osteoprogenitors are also increased at 1.5 months post-OVX. The number of fibroblast colony-forming units does not change. Histomorphometry has shown that OVX causes an increase in osteoblast surfaces, mineralizing surfaces, and bone formation rate at both 1.5 and 9 months post-OVX. The mineral apposition rate is increased at 1.5 months post-OVX. OVX also increases parameters of bone resorption at both time-points, the net result being a decrease in bone mineral density and cancellous bone volume at 9 months post-OVX. Thus, OVX in rats at 12 months of age is associated with an increase in the number of both progesterone- and dexamethasone-responsive osteoprogenitors 9 months post-OVX; this corresponds with increases in the histomorphometric parameters of bone formation. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.