Abstract An enhanced rate of bone remodelling fuelled by osteoclastogenesis mediates diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritic bone destruction, Paget’s disease and malignancy-induced bone loss. Thus, the control of osteoclastogenesis is of major clinical importance. The receptor activator of nuclear factor B (RANK); its ligand, RANKL and decoy receptor, osteoprotegerin, are critical determinants of osteoclastogenesis, and increased RANK signalling is involved in several bone diseases, providing the rationale for RANKL inhibition. The effects of RANKL inhibition are being witnessed in clinical trials of neutralizing fully human monoclonal antibodies that target RANKL (e.g. denosumab) and which induce profound and sustained inhibition of bone resorption. The relative efficacy, cost-effectiveness and side-effects of targeted RANKL inhibition compared with conventional antiresorptive drugs (i.e. bisphosphonates) should be resolved by clinical trials in coming years.