Besides their cell-damaging effects in the setting of oxidative stress, reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role in physiological intracellular signalling by triggering proliferation and survival. FoxO transcription factors counteract ROS generation by upregulating antioxidant enzymes. Here we show that intracellular H2O2 accumulation is a critical and purposeful adaptation for the differentiation and survival of osteoclasts, the bone cells responsible for the resorption of mineralized bone matrix. Using mice with conditional loss or gain of FoxO transcription factor function, or mitochondria-targeted catalase in osteoclasts, we demonstrate this is achieved, at least in part, by downregulating the H2O2-inactivating enzyme catalase. Catalase downregulation results from the repression of the transcriptional activity of FoxO1, 3 and 4 by RANKL, the indispensable signal for the generation of osteoclasts, via an Akt-mediated mechanism. Notably, mitochondria-targeted catalase prevented the loss of bone caused by loss of oestrogens, suggesting that decreasing H2O2 production in mitochondria may represent a rational pharmacotherapeutic approach to diseases with increased bone resorption.