We have investigated the role of 23 candidate genes in the control of bone mineral density (BMD) by linkage studies in families of probands with osteoporosis (lumbar spine [LS] or femoral neck [FN] BMD T score < −2.5) and low BMD relative to an age- and gender-matched cohort (Z score < −2.0). One hundred and fifteen probands (35 male, 80 female) and 499 of their first- or second-degree relatives (223 males and 276 females) were recruited for the study. BMD was measured at the LS and FN using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and expressed as age- and gender-matched Z scores corrected for body mass index. The candidate genes studied were the androgen receptor, type I collagen A1 (COLIA1), COLIA2, COLIIA1, vitamin D receptor (VDR), colony-stimulating factor 1, calcium-sensing receptor, epidermal growth factor (EGF), estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1), fibrillin type 1, insulin-like growth factor 1, interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1α), interleukin-4 (IL-4), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-11 (IL-11), osteopontin, parathyroid hormone (PTH), PTH-related peptide, PTH receptor type 1 (PTHR1), transforming growth factor-beta 1, and tumor necrosis factors alpha and beta. Sixty-four microsatellites lying close to or within these genes were investigated for linkage with BMD. Using the program MapMaker/Sibs there was suggestive evidence of linkage between BMD and PTHR1 (maximum LOD score obtained [MLS] 2.7–3.5). Moderate evidence of linkage was also observed with EGF (MLS 1.8), COLIA1 (MLS 1.7), COLIIA1/VDR (MLS 1.7), ESR1 (MLS 1.4), IL-1α (MLS 1.4), IL-4 (MLS 1.2), and IL-6 (MLS 1.2). Variance components analysis using the program ACT, correcting for proband-wise ascertainment, also showed evidence of linkage (p ≤ 0.05) at markers close to or within the candidate genes IL-1α, PTHR1, IL-6, and COLIIA1/VDR. Further studies will be required to confirm these findings, to refine the location of gene responsible for the observed linkage, and to screen the candidate genes targeted at these loci for mutations.