There is no detailed information available concerning the variations in bone, the Haversian canal, and osteocyte populations in different-sized osteons. In this study a total of 398 secondary osteons were measured in archived rib sections from nine white men (20–25 years old). The sections were stained with basic fuchsin. The parameters included the osteon area (On.Ar), Haversian canal area (HC.Ar) and perimeter (HC.Pm), bone area (B.Ar), and osteocyte lacunar number (Lc.N). From these primary measurements the following indices were deduced: 1) lacunar number per bone area (Lc.N/B.Ar) and per osteon (Lc.N/On); 2) the ratio between Haversian canal perimeter and bone area (HC.Pm/B.Ar); and 3) the fraction of Haversian canal area (HC.Ar/On.Ar) and its complement, the fraction of bone area (B.Ar/On.Ar). The results showed that the osteons varied greatly in size, but very little in the fraction of bone area. Regression analyses showed that HC.Ar, HC.Pm, and Lc.N/On were positively associated with On.Ar (P < 0.001 for all). A significant negative correlation was found between On.Ar and Lc.N/B.Ar (P < 0.05) and HC.Pm/B.Ar (P < 0.0001). HC.Ar and HC.Pm increased significantly with increasing Lc.N/On (both P < 0.0001) rather than Lc.N/B.Ar. Lc.N/B.Ar had a significant positive correlation with HC.Ar/On.Ar (P < 0.05) and HC.Pm/B.Ar (P < 0.01). We conclude that: 1) the size of the osteon is determined by the quantum of bone removed by osteoclasts, 2) the osteon is well designed for molecular exchange, and 3) a well designed osteon may be produced via the regulation of bone apposition by osteocytes during the process of osteon refilling. Anat Rec Part A 272A:520–525, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.