An experiment was performed to determine the effect of a mild magnesium deprivation on calcium metabolism and bone composition, shape, and strength in rats, and whether nickel deprivation exacerbated or alleviated any changes caused by the magnesium deprivation. Weanling male rats were assigned to groups of 10 in a factorial arrangement, with variables being supplemental nickel at 0 and 1 mg/kg and magnesium at 250 and 500 mg/kg of diet. The basal diet contained about 30 ng Ni/g. Urine was collected for 24 h during wk 8 and 12, and rats were euthanized 13 wk after dietary treatments began. Mild magnesium deprivation decreased the urinary excretion of calcium and increased the tibia concentration of calcium but did not affect femur shape or strength (measured by a three-point bending test). Dietary nickel did not alter these effects of magnesium deficiency. Nickel deprivation increased the urinary excretion of phosphorus and the femur strength variables maximum force and moment of inertia. Strength differences might have been the result of changes in bone shape. Magnesium deprivation did not alter the effects of nickel deprivation on bone. The findings indicate that a mild magnesium deficiency affects calcium metabolism but that this does not markedly affect bone strength or shape, and these effects are not modified by dietary nickel. Also, nickel deprivation affects phosphorus metabolism and bone strength and shape; these effects apparently are not caused by changes in magnesium metabolism or utilization.