Metastasis into the skeleton is a serious complication of certain neoplastic diseases such as breast, prostate and lung cancer, but the reasons for this osteotropism are poorly understood. Our aim was to establish a physiologically relevant animal model that is characterized by osteolytic lesions confined to the hind leg of nude rats. For this purpose, we injected 1×105 MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells transfected with GFP into the superficial epigastric artery, which is an anastomosing vessel between the femoral and iliac arteries. As assessed with the aid of X-rays, computed tomography and immunohistochemisty, osteolytic lesions occurred exclusively in the femur, tibia and fibula of the animals. The tumor take rate was 93% in a series of 96 rats and the increase in lesion size was observed up to 110 days after tumor cell inoculation. When applying this animal model to the effects of an antibody against bone sialoprotein (BSP), a significantly reduced osteolytic lesion size was observed after preincubation of cells (2 hr, 600 μg/ml anti-BSP) prior to intra-arterial tumor cell injection resulting in 19 T/C% at day 60 after tumor implantation (p < 0.05). In addition, the osteolytic lesion size was also significantly reduced after s.c. treatment of the animals with the antibody (20 mg/kg anti-BSPx3 within 5 days after tumor implantation), resulting in 30 T/C% at day 60 after tumor cell implantation (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the novel rat model for site-specific osteolytic lesions provides in vivo evidence that preincubation of MDA-MB-231GFP cells and treatment of rats after tumor implantation with an antibody against BSP significantly reduces the size of lytic lesions in bone. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.