During the perimenopause, both the quantity and quality of bone decline rapidly, resulting in a dramatic increase in the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women. Although many factors are known to be associated with osteoporotic fractures, measures to identify and treat women at risk are underused in clinical practice. Consequently, osteoporosis is frequently not detected until a fracture occurs. Identification of postmenopausal women at high risk of fracture therefore is a priority and is especially important for women in early postmenopause who can benefit from early intervention to maintain or to increase bone mass and, thus, reduce the risk of fracture. Most authorities recommend risk-factor assessment for all postmenopausal women, followed by bone mineral density measurements for women at highest risk (ie, all women aged > or =65 years, postmenopausal women aged <65 years with > or =1 additional risk factors for osteoporosis, and postmenopausal women with fragility fractures). All postmenopausal women can benefit from nonpharmacologic interventions to reduce the risk of fracture, including a balanced diet with adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, regular exercise, measures to prevent falls or to minimize their impact, smoking cessation, and moderation of alcohol intake. Several pharmacologic agents, including the bisphosphonates (eg, alendronate, risedronate, and ibandronate) and the selective estrogen receptor modulator, raloxifene, have been shown to increase bone mass, to reduce fracture risk, and to have acceptable side-effect profiles. Women who have discontinued hormone therapy are in particular need of monitoring for fracture risk, in light of the accelerated bone loss and increased risk of fracture that occurs after withdrawal of estrogen treatment.