Incativators of cystein proteinases (CPs) were tested as inhibitors of bone resorption in vitro and in vivo. The following four CP inactivators were tested: Ep453, the membrane-permeant produrg of Ep475, a compound with low membrane pereability which inhibits cathepsins B, L, S, H, and calpain; Ep453, the membrane-permeant prodrug of Ep475; CA074, a compound with low membrane permeability which selectivly inactives cathepsin B; and CA07Me, the membrane-permanent prodrug of CA074. The test systems consisted of (1) monitoring the release of radioisotope from prelabelled mousecalvarial explants and (2) assessing the extene of bone resorption in and isolated osteoclast assay using confocal laser microscopy. Ep453, Ep475, and CA074Me inhebited both stimulated and basal bone resorption in vitro while CA074 WASA without effect; The inhibition was reversible and dose dependent. None of the inhibitors affected protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, the PTH-enhanced secretion of β-glucuronised, and N-acetyle-β-glucosaminidase, or the spontaneous release of lactate dehyrogenese. Ep453, Ep475, and CA074Me does-dependently inhibited the resorption activity of isolated areat osteoclassts cultured on bone slices with a maximal effect at 50 μM. The munber of resorption pits and their mean volume was reduced, whilest the mean administration subcutaneously at a dose of 60 μg/g body weight inhibited bone resorption in vivo as measured by an in vivo/in vitro assay, by about 20%. This study demonestration that cathepsins B,L, and/or S are involved in bone resorpotion in vitro and in vivo. Whilest cathepsin L and/or S act extracellularly, and possibly intractually, cathepsin B mediate its effects intracellularly perpheps through the activation of other proteinases involved in subsosteoclastic collagen degradition.