The molecular mechanisms whereby fluoride stimulates osteogenic cell proliferation are not clearly established. However, fluoride has been shown to enhance the protein tyrosine phosphorylation of various constituents of intracellular signaling cascades in osteoblastic cells following stimulation of growth factor receptors such as the insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) receptor. Such in vitro findings provided the rationale for testing whether the administration of fluoride could enhance IGF-I effects on bone mass in vivo. Adult ovariectomized osteopenic rats were treated with sodium fluoride at a dose of 6 mg/kg per day in drinking water for 8 weeks in association with IGF-I either at a dose of 2 mg/kg per day, which is capable of increasing bone mass, or at a lower dose without detectable skeletal effects. Bone mineral density (BMD) and content (BMC) were evaluated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at the levels of the lumbar spine and proximal, midshaft, and total tibia before and after 8 weeks of treatment. During this period, fluoride alone did not significantly influence BMD/BMC at any skeletal site. However, it potentiated the effect of the higher dose of IGF-I on bone mass at the level of the proximal tibia. When administered in combination with the lower dose of IGF-I, which per se did not modify bone mass, it appeared to sensitize tibial bone to the effects of IGF-I. These changes were associated with a concomitant increase in osteocalcin, taken as a reflection of bone formation. These results indicate that fluoride could potentiate the osteogenic effects of IGF-I on bone in adult ovariectomized rats.