IL-23 stimulates the differentiation and function of the Th17 subset of CD4+ T cells and plays a critical role in chronic inflammation. The IL-23 receptor-encoding gene is also an inflammatory disease susceptibility gene. IL-23 shares a common subunit with IL-12, a T cell-dependent osteoclast formation inhibitor, and we found that IL-23 also dose-dependently inhibited osteoclastogenesis in a CD4+ T lymphocyte-dependent manner. When sufficiently enriched, γδ T cells also mediated IL-23 inhibition. Like IL-12, IL-23 acted synergistically with IL-18 to block osteoclastogenesis but, unlike IL-12, IL-23 action depended on T cell GM-CSF production. IL-23 did not mediate IL-12 action although IL-12 induced its expression. Male mice lacking IL-23 (IL-23p19-/-) had ∼30% lower bone mineral density and tibial trabecular bone mass (bone volume (BV)/total volume (TV)) than wild-type littermates at 12 wk and 40% lower BV/TV at 26 wk of age; male heterozygotes also had lower bone mass. Female IL-23p19-/- mice also had reduced BV/TV. IL-23p19-/- mice had no detectable osteoclast defect in trabecular bone but IL-23p19-/- had thinner growth plate hypertrophic and primary spongiosa zones (and, in females, less cartilage remnants) compared with wild type. This suggests increased osteoclast action at and below the growth plate, leading to reduced amounts of mature trabecular bone. Thus, IL-23 inhibits osteoclast formation indirectly via T cells in vitro. Under nonpathological conditions (unlike inflammatory conditions), IL-23 favors higher bone mass in long bones by limiting resorption of immature bone forming below the growth plate.