Immobilization is associated with increased bone resorption and decreased bone formation. We evaluated in a double-blind trial the effect of intranasal administration of salmon calcitonin on biochemical parameters of bone turnover in 32 patients immobilized for a prolapsed intervertebral disk. Calcitonin in a dose of two times 200 IU/day partially inhibited the increase in the fasting 2 h urinary hydroxyproline/creatinine ratio (OHPr/Cr) and calcium/creatinine ratio (Ca/Cr). The increase in OHPr/Cr was 40% less in the calcitonin group compared to the placebo group (P = 0.01), and the increase in Ca/Cr was 80% less in the calcitonin group (P = 0.04). Calcitonin also partially inhibited the increase in serum cross-linked carboxyl-terminal telopeptide of collagen type I (P < 0.05). The decrease in serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D after 10 days of immobilization was significantly less in the calcitonin-treated group than in the placebo group (14 versus 29%, respectively; P < 0.05). Intranasal calcitonin did not influence the pain scores as measured with a visual analog scale (VAS). The tolerability of the nasal calcitonin preparation was excellent. We conclude that nasal salmon calcitonin counteracts the early increase in bone resorption induced by immobilization.