The interpretation of bone mineral densitometry results for a particular individual relies on valid reference data from a representative population sample. To establish local reference data, 411 Australian female volunteers had bone mineral densitometry performed at a single medical centre at the proximal femur and lumbar spine using a Hologic QDR 1000-W dual-energy X-ray absorptiometer. These data were compared with reference material from North American women compiled by Hologic. The Australian volunteers had, on average, 7% greater bone mineral density at the lumbar spine for the age range 25-55 years. Possible explanations for this include an actual population difference or the presence of a differential selection bias between the two samples.