We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-selective complementary DNA (cDNA) subtraction hybridization with an immortalized murine osteoclast (OCL) precursor cell line to identify genes that are highly expressed in OCLs compared with OCL precursors and which may be involved in the OCL differentiation process. ADAM8 was one of the 50 genes identified. ADAM (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase) peptides are membrane-bound proteins that can act as cell-to-cell and cell-to-matrix adhesion molecules, degrade the extracellular matrix, and play a role in tissue morphogenesis. Addition of antisense (AS) S-oligonucleotides for ADAM8 (1-10 nM) to mouse bone marrow cultures treated with 10−9 M 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2D3] significantly inhibited OCL formation compared with treatment with the control S-oligonucleotide. Furthermore, conditioned media from 293 cells transiently transfected with a secretable form of the ADAM8 cDNA increased OCL formation in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, treatment of OCLs with soluble ADAM8 conditioned media significantly increased pit formation per dentin slice compared with control OCLs. Time course studies indicated that ADAM8 increased OCL formation only when it was present during days 4-7 of the 7-day culture period. Structural analysis, using truncated constructs of ADAM8, showed that the cysteine-rich/disintegrin domain was responsible for its OCL stimulatory activity. Western blot analysis confirmed that the soluble form of ADAM8 is present in normal marrow cultures. These data suggest that ADAM8 plays an important role in OCL formation and acts primarily at the later stages of OCL differentiation.