Background Despite the clinical importance of osteoporosis in individuals with cirrhosis, little is known about it, especially in children. We evaluated the bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) of children with cirrhosis. Methods. Forty children with cirrhosis (mean age, 10.4 +/- 3.9 years) were involved. BMD and BMC were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry at lumbar vertebrae 1-4, and the results were compared with those of 62 healthy age- and sex-matched children. Results. The mean lumbar spine BMD of patients with cirrhosis was 0.482 +/- 0.107 g/cm(2) and that of the controls was 0.687 +/- 0.172 g/cm(2) (P < 0.0001). The mean lumbar spine BMC of patients with cirrhosis was 20.008 +/- 8.409g and that of controls was 32.859 +/- 14.665 g (P < 0.0001). After the confounding variables (weight, height, and pubertal stage) were controlled for, the difference in BMD and BMC values between patients with cirrhosis and healthy controls was significant (0.535 +/- 0.061 g/cm(2) vs 0.653 +/- 0.048 g/cm(2), and 24.515 +/- 5.052 g vs 29.952 +/- 3.971 g, respectively). Conclusions. Because of the significant difference in BNID and BMC values between our patients with cirrhosis and healthy controls, patients with cirrhosis should be evaluated for osteopenia.