Abstract In a co-culture system of mouse spleen cells and osteoblastic cells, we have demonstrated that a suitable microenvironment must be provided by osteoblastic cells in order for osteoclast-like multinucleated cell (MNC) formation. Using this co-culture system, we examined the pathogenetic mechanism underlying the lack of bone resorption in osteosclerotic oc/oc mice. Numerous tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP, an osteoclast marker enzyme)-positive MNCs were formed in response to 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3] both in co-cultures of oc/oc spleen cells and normal osteoblastic cells and in those of normal spleen cells and oc/oc osteoblastic cells. TRAP-positive MNCs derived from normal spleen cells tended to spread out on culture dishes, whereas those from oc/oc spleen cells remained as small, compact MNCs. When TRAP-positive MNCs enriched from co-cultures of normal spleen cells and oc/oc osteoblastic cells were cultured on dentine slices, they formed numerous resorption pits with ruffled borders and clear zones. In contrast, none of the TRAP-positive MNCs derived from oc/oc spleen cells formed either ruffled borders or resorption pits. These results indicate that the lack of bone resorption in oc/oc mice is due to a defect in osteoclast progenitors rather than the local microenvironment provided by osteoblastic cells.