Abstract In order to clarify the influence of cell death of osteocytes on osteoinduction after bone grafting, autogenous fresh ribs, bone-marrow-removed fresh ribs, and frozen devitalized ribs were grafted after removal of the periosteum in a bridge manner in the rat mandible, and the process of bone remodeling was studied histologically, histochemically, and ultrastructurally in the central portion of the grafts. In the fresh bone group, osteocytes maintained normal morphology and grafted bones were undergoing resorption by osteoclasts with ruffled borders and strong tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRACP) activity on the fifth day (Day 5). Alkalinephosphatase (ALP)-positive osteoblast-like cells were observed in close proximity of the osteoclasts. On Days 7 to 9, new bone formation occasionally accompanied by newly formed cartilage was observed in the grafted bones, and by Day 14, the majority of the grafted bones had been replaced by newly formed bone. In the marrow-removed fresh bone group, bone resorption by TRACP-positive cells and new bone formation similar to those seen in the fresh bone group were observed on Day 10, In the frozen devitalized bone group in which osteocytes had undergone necrosis, bone resorption and new bone formation were not observed even on Day 84, and grafted bones became surrounded by fibrous tissues. The TRACP activity was very weak and no ruffled border was observed ultrastructurally in multinucleated giant cells seen on Day 14. In conclusion, immediate bone resorption by osteocytes is essential for osteoinduction in the bone graft, and living osteocytes in the graft play an important roll in the differentiation and activation of osteocytes.