Osteoclast inhibitory lectin (OCIL or clrb) is a member of the natural killer cell C-type lectins that have a described role mostly in autoimmune cell function. OCIL was originally identified as an osteoblast-derived inhibitor of osteoclast formation in vitro. To determine the physiological function(s) of OCIL, we generated ocil-/- mice. These mice appeared healthy and were fertile, with no apparent immune function defect, and phenotypic abnormalities were limited to bone. Histomorphometric analysis revealed a significantly lower tibial trabecular bone volume and trabecular number in the 10- and 16-week-old male ocil-/- mice compared with wild type mice. Furthermore, ocil-/- mice showed reduced bone formation rate in the 10-week-old females and 16-week-old males while Static markers of bone formation showed no significant changes in male or female ocil-/- mice. Examination of bone resorption markers in the long bones of ocil-/- mice indicated a transient increase in osteoclast number per unit bone perimeter. Enhanced osteoclast formation was also observed when either bone marrow or splenic cultures were generated in vitro from ocil-/- mice relative to wild type control cultures. Loss of ocil therefore resulted in osteopenia in adult mice primarily as a result of increased osteoclast formation and/or decreased bone formation. The enhanced osteoclastic activity led to elevated serum calcium levels, which resulted in the suppression of circulating parathyroid hormone in 10-week-old ocil-/- mice compared with wild type control mice. Collectively, our data suggest that OCIL is a physiological negative regulator of bone.