Androgens may regulate the male skeleton either directly via activation of the androgen receptor (AR) or indirectly via aromatization of androgens into estrogen and, thereafter, via activation of estrogen receptors (ERs). There are two known estrogen receptors, ER-alpha and ER-beta. The aim of this study was to investigate the relative roles of ER-alpha, ER-beta, and AR in the maintenance of trabecular bone in male mice. Seven-month-old male mice, lacking ER-alpha (ERKO), ER-beta (BERKO), or both receptors (DERKO), were orchidectomized (orx) and treated for 3 weeks with 0.7 microg/mouse per day of 17beta-estradiol or vehicle. No reduction in trabecular bone mineral density (BMD) was seen in ERKO, BERKO, or DERKO mice before orx, showing that neither ER-a nor ER-beta is required for the maintenance of a normal trabecular BMD in male mice. After orx, there was a pronounced decrease in trabecular BMD, similar for all groups, resulting in equal levels of trabecular BMD in all genotypes. This reduction was reversed completely in wild-type (WT) and BERKO mice treated with estrogen, and no significant effect of estrogen was found in ERKO or DERKO mice. In summary, the trabecular bone is preserved both by a testicular factor, presumably testosterone acting via AR and by an estrogen-induced activation of ER-alpha. These results indicate that AR and ER-alpha are redundant in the maintenance of the trabecular bone in male mice. In contrast, ER-beta is of no importance for the regulation of trabecular bone in male mice.