The organic matrix of bone contains several protein families, including collagens, proteoglycans, and glycoproteins, all of which may be extensively modified by posttranslational events, such as phosphorylation and sulfation. Many of the glycoproteins contain Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD), the integrin-binding sequence, within their structure, whereas other constituent proteins contain gamma-carboxyglutamic acid. The deposition of bone matrix by cells in the osteoblastic lineage is regulated by extrinsic factors, such as systemic and local growth factors and physical forces, and factors that are intrinsic to the cell, such as position in the cell cycle, maturational stage, and developmental age of the donor. Recent studies of several bone matrix gene promoters have identified cis- and trans-acting elements that are responsible for gene activity, although the precise sequence of regulatory events is not known. Development of in vitro assays, coupled with studies of the appearance of these proteins during development in vivo, provides insight into the functions of these proteins during the various stages of bone metabolism. Potential roles for these proteins include proliferation and maturation of stem cells, formation of matrix scaffolding elaborated by bone-forming cells, modeling, and remodeling. Changes in the functional properties of the extracellular matrix may be involved in a variety of disease processes, including osteoporosis and oral bone loss.