The cellular mechanism or mechanisms through which tumors induce osteoclast formation at sites of tumor osteolysis is unknown. To test the hypothesis that osteoclast formation at sites of tumor osteolysis reflects influences that tumors have on proliferating osteoclast precursor cells, a novel in vivo experimental model was developed that produced mice that were deficient in osteoclasts (op/op) and were depleted (by way of total body irradiation) of proliferating osteoclast precursor cells. The femora of irradiated op/op mice were injected with tumor cells (2472 clone) that had been previously shown to form osteolytic tumors and to induce focal osteoclastogenesis, and the influence of these tumor cells on osteoclast formation was determined in op/op mice that were depleted of proliferating osteoclast precursor cells. The results indicated that 2472 tumor cells induced osteoclast formation in op/op mice despite the absence of proliferating osteoclast precursor cells. This finding disproved the hypothesis under investigation and suggests that osteoclast formation at sites of tumor osteolysis reflects influences of tumors on postmitotic, not proliferating, osteoclast precursor cells.