Abstract Serum levels of osteocalcin (OC) have been found to be a specific biochemical parameter of bone formation. We measured serum levels of osteocalcin, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) in 49 patients with liver cirrhosis, who are known to have an increased prevalence of metabolic bone disease, and a matched control group ( n = 35). Serum levels of OC were significantly decreased in the patients with liver cirrhosis when compared to control subjects ( P < 0.001). Serum levels of 25(OH)D were decreased ( P < 0.001), whereas no statistical difference was found between the serum levels of PTH in the patients with liver cirrhosis and those of the controls. In a subgroup of 23 patients with cirrhosis of the liver and 34 control subjects, the bone mineral content (BMC) of the non-dominant forearm was determined by single photon absorptiometry. BMC was significantly lower in the patient with liver cirrhosis than the control subjects ( P < 0.04). Our data demonstrate vitamin D deficiency, decreased bone formation and a decreased BMC in patients with liver cirrhosis.