UNLABELLED: The degree to which bone tissue responds to mechanical loading events is partially under genetic control. We assess the contribution of three genetic loci (QTLs linked to bone geometry and strength)--located on mouse Chrs. 1, 8, and 13--to mechanically stimulated bone formation, through in vivo skeletal loading of congenic strains. Bone size was not consistently associated with mechano-responsiveness, indicating that the genetic regulation of mechanotransduction is a complex process that involves a number of genes and is sex-specific. INTRODUCTION: We showed previously that C57BL/6J (B6) mice are more responsive to mechanical stimulation than C3H/HeJ (C3H) mice and that B6 mice harboring a 40-Mb region of distal C3H Chromosome (Chr.) 4 are more responsive to mechanical stimulation than are fully B6 mice. Here, we assess the contribution of three more genetic loci--located on mouse Chrs. 1, 8, and 1--to mechanically stimulated bone formation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Three congenic mouse strains were created in which a region of mouse Chr. 1 (approximately 64 cM; 150 Mb), Chr. 8 (approximately 45 cM; 86 Mb), or Chr. 13 (approximately 24 cM; 42 Mb) was moved from C3H stock to a B6 background through selective breeding over nine generations. The regions moved to the B6 background correspond to three of several quantitative trait loci (QTLs) identified for bone size and strength. The resulting congenic mice were 99% B6, with the remaining genomic DNA comprised of the Chr. 1, 8, or 13 QTLs of interest. Male and female congenic (1T, 8T, and 13B) and B6 control mice were subjected to in vivo loading of the right ulna at one of three different load magnitudes. A separate set of animals from each group had strain gauges applied at the ulnar midshaft to estimate strain at each loading level. Loading was conducted once per day for 3 days (60 cycles/d; 2 Hz). Fluorochrome labels were injected intraperitoneally 4 and 11 days after loading began. Using quantitative histomorphometry, bone formation rates were measured in loaded (right) and control (left) ulnas. RESULTS: All male congenic mice exhibited significantly reduced mechano-responsiveness compared with male B6 controls, but the same comparison among females yielded no difference from controls, with the exception of the 1T congenics, which showed increased responsiveness to loading. Among the congenic strains, smaller bone size was not consistently associated with reduced mechano-responsiveness. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that the genetic regulation of mechanotransduction is a complex process that involves a number of genes and is sex-specific. Our data might explain why different individuals can engage in similar exercise protocols yet experience different results in terms of bone mass accrual.