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Reduced bone mineral density (BMD), the major risk factor for osteoporotic fracture, has been linked to palmoplantar pustular psoriasis, but no significant studies have examined BMD in chronic plaque psoriasis (CPP). In this study, in-patients with severe CPP had their BMD measured at the nondominant hip and lumbar spine using dual energy X-ray absorbtiometry. Ten male and 10 female Caucasian patients were recruited, with a mean age of 47 years (range 20–71 years). There were no significant differences in BMD between patients and controls. However, patients with psoriatic arthropathy in addition to CPP had a significantly lower mean lumbar spine Z-score (− 1.16) than those without arthropathy (+1.38, P = 0.015). Neither previous nor current treatment with systemic steroids, retinoids or methotrexate significantly affected BMD. We found no evidence that patients with CPP, despite risk factors, have a significantly low BMD, although the subgroup with joint involvement appear be at significantly higher risk of osteoporosis and may therefore require preventative treatment.