Histological examination of long bones from 1-day-old bcl-2 knockout and age-matched control mice revealed no obvious differences in length of bone, growth plate architecture or stage of endochondral ossification. In 35-day-old bcl-2 knockout mice that are growth retarded or 'dwarfed', the proliferative zone of the growth plate appeared slightly thinner and the secondary centres of ossification less well developed than their age-matched wild-type controls. The most marked histological effects of bcl-2 ablation were on osteoblasts and bone. 35-day-old knockout mouse bones exhibited far greater numbers of osteoblasts than controls and the osteoblasts had a cuboidal phenotype in comparison with the normal flattened cell appearance. In addition, the collagen deposited by the osteoblasts in the bcl-2 knockout mouse bone was disorganized in comparison with control tissue and had a pseudo-woven appearance. The results suggest an important role for Bcl-2 in controlling osteoblast phenotype and bone deposition in vivo.