BACKGROUND: Biochemical markers have been proposed as sensitive indicators of high bone turnover and for monitoring response to osteoporosis treatment. We conducted a retrospective study to investigate the pattern of biochemical markers of bone metabolism (urinary deoxypryridinoline(D PYD), serum osteocalcin) across menopausal transition in women. METHODS: We measured the urinary excretion of D PYD, serum osteocalcin and BMD in 44 premenopausal and age matched 44 postmenopausal women who visited a tertiary hospital from May 1, 1997 to July 31, 1997. Each values between premenopausal and postmenopausal women were anaysed with paired t-tests. Pearson's correlation coefficients were performed to assess the relationships between the three values. RESULTS: Urinary excretion of D-PYD in postmenopausal women (12.103+/-2.27 nM/mM creatinine) was higher than in premenopausal women (9.322+/-2.53 nM/mM creatinine) (P<0.05). Serum osteocalcin in postmenopausal women (12.8698+/-3.1 ng/ml) was higher than in premenopausal women (9.0949+/-2.7 ng/ml) (P<0.01). BMD in postmenopausal women (0.9979+/-0.1863 g/cm2) was lower than in postmenopausal women (1.1845+/-0.1591 g/cm2) (P<0.01). The serum osteocalcin level was positively correlated with D-PYD (r=0.547, p<0.01). Urine excretion of D-PYD was negatively correlated with BMD (r= 0.36, p<0.01). Serum osteocalcin was negatively correlated with BMD (r= 0.427, P<0.01). CONCLUSION: Urinary D-PYD excretion and serum osteocalcin were increased, but BMD was decreased significantly in postmenopausal women. Urinary D-PYD, serum osteocalcin, and BMD were significantly correlated with each other in women.