Calcitriol putatively suppresses bone activity by decreasing parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels. Results of studies in a 52-year-old female maintenance hemodialysis patient suggest that calcitriol may also have a direct suppressive effect on bone. The PTH-calcium relationship was evaluated through the use of low (1 mEq/1) and high (4 mEq/1) calcium hemodialyses that were performed before the initiation of calcitriol treatment, at the end of 6 weeks of thrice-weekly intravenous calcitriol administration, and 6 weeks after the discontinuation of calcitriol. During the low-calcium dialysis, serum calcium decreased more rapidly and to a greater magnitude after calcitriol treatment despite no appreciable difference in basal and maximally stimulated PTH levels; during the high-calcium dialysis, calcitriol treatment resulted in a more rapid increase in serum calcium despite no appreciable difference in basal and maximally suppressed PTH levels. Discontinuation of calcitriol resulted in responses to the low and high calcium dialyses that were similar to those observed before calcitriol treatment. In conclusion, the results suggest that calcitriol may have a direct suppressive effect on bone that is independent of PTH.