Perturbations in the balanced process of osteoblast-mediated bone formation and osteoclast-mediated bone resorption leading to excessive osteoclast formation and/or activity is the cause of many pathological bone conditions such as osteoporosis. The osteoclast is the only cell in the body capable of resorbing and degrading the mineralized bone matrix. Osteoclast formation from monocytic precursors is governed by the actions of two key cytokines macrophage-colony-stimulating factor and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL). Binding of RANKL binding to receptor RANK initiates a series of downstream signaling responses leading to monocytic cell differentiation and fusion, and subsequent mature osteoclast bone resorption and survival. The phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (Akt) signaling cascade is one such pathway activated in response to RANKL. The 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1), is considered the master upstream lipid kinase of the PI3K-Akt cascade. PDK1 functions to phosphorylate and partially activate Akt, triggering the activation of downstream effectors. However, the role of PDK1 in osteoclasts has yet to be clearly defined. In this study, we specifically deleted the PDK1 gene in osteoclasts using the cathepsin-K promoter driven Cre-LoxP system. We found that the specific genetic ablation of PDK1 in osteoclasts leads to an osteoclast-poor osteopetrotic phenotype in mice. In vitro cellular assays further confirmed the impairment of osteoclast formation in response to RANKL by PDK1-deficient bone marrow macrophage (BMM) precursor cells. PDK1-deficient BMMs exhibited reduced ability to reorganize actin cytoskeleton to form a podosomal actin belt as a result of diminished capacity to fuse into giant multinucleated osteoclasts. Notably, biochemical analyses showed that PDK1 deficiency attenuated the phosphorylation of Akt and downstream effector GSK3β, and reduced induction of NFATc1. GSK3β is a reported negative regulator of NFATc1. GSK3β activity is inhibited by Akt-dependent phosphorylation. Thus, our data provide clear genetic and mechanistic insights into the important role for PDK1 in osteoclasts. © 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.