Abstract The rate-limiting step in the delivery of nutrients to osteocytes and the removal of cellular waste products is likely diffusion. The transport of osteoid water across the mineralized matrix of bone was studied by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging by measuring the diffusion fluxes of tissue water in cortical bone specimens from the midshaft of rabbit tibiae immersed in deuterium oxide. From the diffusion coefficient ( D a = (7.8 ± 1.5) × 10 −7 cm 2/s) measured at 40°C (close to physiological temperature), it can be inferred that diffusive transport of small molecules from the bone vascular system to the osteocytes occurs within minutes. The activation energy for water diffusion, calculated from D a measured at four different temperatures, suggests that the interactions between water molecules and matrix pores present significant energy barriers to diffusion. The spatially resolved profile of D a perpendicular to the cortical surface of the tibia, obtained using a finite difference model, indicates that diffusion rates are higher close to the endosteal and periosteal surfaces, decreasing toward the center of the cortex. Finally, the data reveal a water component (∼30%) diffusing four orders of magnitude more slowly, which is ascribed to water tightly bound to the organic matrix and mineral phase.