Several morphometric and cellular parameters were studied in the rice rat (Oryzomys palustris). When fed a soft, high carbohydrate diet, a severe periodontal disease occurred, with significant alterations in the morphometric and cellular endpoints observed. Weaned animals were placed on a high carbohydrate diet for periods of 6, 12 or 18 weeks. There was a linear, rapid loss of bone by 18 weeks, approaching a 75 % loss of original bone. Vascular spaces decreased as the remaining connective tissue became fibrotic in character. The percentage of the interdental test site which was destroyed by periodontal disease increased dramatically over the time of the experiment. The numbers of fibroblasts per mm of bone surface increased slightly at the 18 week period; osteoblasts were unchanged at any period. The numbers of osteoclast nuclei rose dramatically by 12 weeks, and these cell nuclei remained at increased levels at 18 weeks. Also, the numbers of inflammatory cells residing at the bone surface increased greatly by 18 weeks time. Finally, the numbers of 3H-TdR labeled periodontal ligament (PDL) fibroblasts increased significantly at both 12 and 18 weeks time. These cellular changes and their relation to the bone loss due to periodontal disease are discussed.