We present a polymorphism of the human osteocalcin gene (also known as BGP, for bone Gla protein) due to a 1 base pair (bp) substitution from cytosine to thymine at position 298 nucleotides (nt), which is at position 198 nt upstream from the BGP exon 1. This mutation was detected by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis after polymerase chain reaction for the osteocalcin gene fragment (326 bp) and sequencing analysis. The cytosine/thymine polymorphism can be defined by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis using a modified primer pair and the restriction endonuclease HindIII. The osteocalcin genotype was determined in 160 postmenopausal Japanese women (age 48-80 years). Osteocalcin alleles were designated according to the absence (H) or presence (h) of the HindIII restriction site. There were 12 HH, 49 Hh, and 99 hh individuals, and the allele frequencies were 22.8% for H and 77.2% for h. To determine if genetic variation influences bone mineral density (BMD) and thus can be a determinant of susceptibility to osteoporosis in older women, we examined the association of BMD with the osteocalcin genotypes found in the present study. The subjects with genotype HH had the smallest BMD and those with hh had the greatest BMD among subjects, but these differences did not reach statistical significance. The HindIII genotype showed a significant effect on the prevalence of osteopenia in the subjects, that is, women with genotype HH had a 5.74 times greater risk for osteopenia (p < 0.05) and those with genotype Hh had a 1.59 times greater risk than women with genotype hh. We identified the osteocalcin gene polymorphism, detected with the HindIII genotype, which was suggested to influence bone density and is a possible genetic marker for bone metabolism.