Adipose tissue provides for a rich and easily accessible source of multipotent stromal cells and thus offers the potential for autologous cell-based therapy for a number of degenerative diseases. Senile osteoporosis is characterized by a reduction in bone quality, which is associated with inadequacies in bone marrow stromal cell (BMSC) differentiation. In the present study, we have characterized adipose-derived stromal cells (ASCs) isolated from aged osteoporotic mice and evaluated their suitability as a source of osteogenic precursor cells. Significant reductions in both tibia bone quality and telomere length in liver tissue were observed in the senescence-accelerated mouse prone 6 strain (SAMP6), as compared to the control age-matched senescence-accelerated mouse resistant 1 strain (SAMR1), thus confirming osteoporosis and accelerated ageing traits in this model. ASCs isolated from inguinal fat expressed mesenchymal surface markers and were capable of differentiating along the osteoblast, adipocyte and chondrocyte lineages. Telomere length was not compromised in ASCs from SAMP6 mice but was actually found to be significantly increased as compared to control SAMR1 mice. Furthermore, ASCs from both strains were comparable in terms of telomerase activity, p21 mRNA expression, SA–β-gal activity and proliferative capacity. The overall osteogenic and adipogenic potential of ASCs was comparable between SAMP6 and SAMR1 strains, as determined by quantitative molecular, biochemical and histological analyses. In conclusion, adipose tissue may represent a promising autologous cell source for the development of novel bone regenerative therapeutic strategies in the treatment of age-related osteoporosis. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.