The manner by which the trabecular microstructure affects the propagation of ultrasound waves through cancellous bone is numerically investigated by finite difference time-domain (FDTD) simulation. Sixteen 3-D numerical models of 6.45 x 6.45 x 6.45 mm with a voxel size of 64.5 microm are reconstructed using a 3-D microcomputed tomographic (microCT) image taken from a bovine cancellous bone specimen of approximately 20 x 20 x 9 mm. All cancellous bone models have an oriented trabecular structure, and their trabecular elements are gradually eroded to increase the porosity using an image processing technique. Three erosion procedures are presented to realize various changes in the trabecular microstructure with increasing porosity. FDTD simulations of the ultrasound pulse waves propagating through the cancellous bone models at each eroded step are performed in 2 cases of the propagations parallel and perpendicular to the major trabecular orientation. The propagation properties of the wave amplitudes and propagation speeds are derived as a function of the porosity, and their variability due to the trabecular microstructure is revealed. To elucidate an effect of the microstructure, the mean intercept length (MIL), which is a microstructural parameter, is introduced, and the correlations of the propagation properties with the MILs of the trabecular elements and pore spaces are investigated.