Introduction: Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) is a serious complication of bisphosphonate therapy. The mechanism underlying BRONJ pathogenesis is poorly understood. Objectives: To determine the effects of zoledronic acid (ZA) and geranylgeraniol (GGOH) on the mevalonate pathway (MVP) in osteoblasts generated from the human mandibular alveolar bone in terms of cell viability/proliferation, migration, apoptosis and gene expression. Materials and methods: Primary human osteoblasts (HOBs) isolated from the mandibular alveolar bone were phenotyped. HOBs were cultured with or without ZA and GGOH for up to 72 h. Cellular behaviour was examined using a CellTiter-Blue® viability assay, an Ibidi culture-insert migration assay, an Apo-ONE® Homogeneous Caspase-3/7 apoptosis assay and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT2-PCR) was used to determine the simultaneous expression of 168 osteogenic and angiogenic genes modulated in the presence of ZA and GGOH. Results: ZA decreased cell viability and migration and induced apoptosis in HOBs. TEM revealed signs of apoptosis in ZA-treated HOBs. However, the co-addition of GGOH ameliorated the effect of ZA and partially restored the cells to the control state. Twenty-eight genes in the osteogenic array and 27 genes in the angiogenic array were significantly regulated in the presence of ZA compared with those in the controls at one or more time points. Conclusion: The cytotoxic effect of ZA on HOBs and its reversal by the addition of GGOH suggests that the effect of ZA on HOBs is mediated via the MVP. Clinical relevance: The results suggest that GGOH could be used as a possible therapeutic/preventive strategy for BRONJ. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.