This study was performed to test the efficacy of short-term intravenous clodronate and etidronate in the prevention of postmenopausal bone loss. Healthy postmenopausal women, exhibiting a decreasing trend in bone mineral density, were randomized to five groups (clodronate at doses of 150, 300, and 600 mg; etidronate at a dose of 300 mg; and a placebo group) of 21–22 subjects. The drugs were administered intravenously three times with 1-week intervals, followed by regular evaluation for up to 24 months. During the first year, 300 mg of clodronate retarded bone loss significantly in the lumbar spine and femoral neck, where significant protection still persisted after 24 months. Other doses of clodronate (150 and 600 mg) were not bone protective. Etidronate (300 mg) retarded bone loss significantly in the lumbar spine up to 24 months, relative to placebo. Serum concentrations of procollagen I carboxy-terminal propeptide and urinary Ca2+ and hydroxyproline excretion decreased in all bisphosphonate groups during the first month after treatment, but the values returned later toward baseline. In the etidronate-group, serum osteocalcin concentrations also decreased significantly during the first 3 months of the study. Otherwise, no uniform serum responses to bisphosphonate-treatment were detected in circulating markers of bone formation, alkaline phosphatase, or osteocalcin. No significant differences in the serum concentrations of cross-linked carboxy-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen were detected between the groups. Patient acceptance of both bisphosphonates was excellent, and no drug-related adverse side effects were detected. These results suggest that infrequently repeated intravenous treatment with bisphosphonates may effectively counteract postmenopausal bone loss.