Although positive effects of physical activity are often reported, there are still uncertainties about the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of these activities that are most effective for (re)modeling bone mass during youth. In the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study, daily physical activity and fitness were monitored from age 13 to 29 years in a group of 182 males and females. At a mean age of 28 years, bone mineral density (BMD) was measured at three sites with dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA): in the lumbar region (lumbar BMD), the femoral neck (hip BMD), and the distal radius (wrist BMD). Physical activity (PA) was estimated from a cross-check activity interview taking in consideration all daily physical activities during the last 3 months; PA was scored in two different ways: (1) metabolic physical activity score (METPA) by weighting the intensity (multiples of basic metabolic rate [METs]) and duration (minutes per week); and (2) mechanic physical activity score (MECHPA) by weighting the peak strain (ground reaction forces as multiples of body mass) irrespective of frequency and duration of the physical activities. Physical fitness was measured with a neuromotor fitness test (composite of six strength, flexibility, and speed tests) and as cardiopulmonary fitness (maximal oxygen uptake). The physical activity and fitness scores were calculated over two age periods: during adolescence (13-16 years) and during adulthood (21-27 years). The standardized regression coefficients (corrected for gender, biological age, body composition, and calcium intake) show that weight, physical activity (both METPA and MECHPA), and neuromotor fitness during adolescence and in young adulthood are significantly and positively related with the lumbar BMD (β = 0.11-0.40) and hip BMD (β = 0.18-0.26), measured at the mean age of 28 years. This was not the case for cardiorespiratory fitness. No significant correlations at all are found with wrist BMD, a bone site that is less involved in physical activity and fitness. It can be concluded that daily physical activity during adolescence and in the young adult period is significantly related to the BMD at the lumbar spine and femoral neck at age 28 of males and females. Only neuromotor fitness and not cardiopulmonary fitness during adolescence and young adulthood is related to the BMD of males and females at age 28 years. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.