RANKL (receptor activator of NF-κB) is a potent physiological inducer of osteoclastogenesis. Its actions are blocked by the decoy receptor osteoprotegerin (OPG), and treatment with OPG blocks bone resorption in postmenopausal women. Both positive and negative associations between serum OPG and bone mineral density (BMD) have been reported in the literature. We hypothesized that decreased OPG production relative to RANKL within bone itself could lead to increased risk of osteoporotic fracture. We included ten women with hip fracture (age 76.3 ± 8.0 years, N.S, hip BMD 0.686 ± 1.3 g/cm2, P < 0.05) and 24 women with osteoarthrosis of the hip (age 72.8 ± 7.2 years, hip BMD 0.832 ± 1.1 g/cm2). Transiliac biopsies were obtained at the time of surgery. Total RNA was extracted from biopsies and reverse-transcribed. Real-time quantification of mRNA was performed with a SYBR Green I real time PCR assay, calculating relative gene expession with normalization of results for β actin mRNA. Actin normalized mRNA levels for OPG and interleukin (IL)-6 were significantly lower in fracture patients, with a significantly higher RANKL/OPG ratio in patients with fractures. There was no significant difference in tumor necrosis factor (TNF), IL-1, IL-1ra, or IL-7 expression. IL-6 mRNA levels were lower in fracture patients (P < 0.05). The effect of increased RANKL/OPG ratio (Z = 2.08, P < 0.05) on fracture risk was additive to that of hip BMD T score (Z = -1.95, P < 0.05) when assessed using logistic regression. Elderly women with hip fractures exhibit an increased RANKL/OPG mRNA content of iliac bone. This is associated with increased fracture susceptibility, which is not in itself explained by low BMD.