Extracellular ATP acting through purinoceptors may be an important factor in the modulation of bone turnover. In this study we cloned and sequenced the P2U purinoceptor from osteoclastoma, confirming the recently published human sequence. Furthermore, by the reverse transcriptase-linked polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Southern blotting we demonstrated expression of P2U receptor mRNA in bone, primary cultures of human bone-derived cells, and two osteosarcoma cell lines, Saos2 and Te85. P2U receptor transcripts were identified in alkaline phosphatase-positive human bone-derived cells isolated by flow cytometry providing strong evidence for the expression of the P2U purinoceptor in mature osteoblasts. P2U receptor transcripts were also detected in a purified giant cell population isolated from osteoclastoma, indicating that this receptor is also expressed by osteoclasts. These data suggest that purinergic agonists may play a role in the regulation of bone metabolism.