We examined the growth-related changes in femoral geometry and torsional strength in BMP-5 deficient short-ear mice over a 22-week time interval ("long-term" changes). Four groups of female mice (n = 6 per group) were examined: short-ear animals and their heterozygous control littermates at 4 and 26 weeks of age. In agreement with findings previously observed in a mixed-gender group of adult mice (26 weeks), the femora of short-ear animals were significantly smaller in length and cross section at both ages. The magnitudes of the differences between genotypes were comparable at each age, indicating that the overall rates of appositional and endochondral growth were similar for both genotypes over the 22-week period. In the adult animals, short-ear femora were 27 +/- 7% weaker in torsional strength due to their smaller cross-sectional geometry. However, bone strength in adult short-ear mice appeared to be adequate for animal size: No significant difference was detected in maximum femoral torque when normalized by body mass. In 4-week old animals, BMP-5 deficiency was associated with a 27 +/- 6% lower body mass, but the torsional strength of the femur was not significantly different from that of controls. Cross-sectional geometry was smaller in 4-week old short-ear mice, but the apparent bone material ultimate shear stress was elevated by 33 +/- 10%, thereby resulting in a whole bone torsional strength equivalent to that of the larger control mice. While the data suggest a higher material strength in the 4-week-old short-ear animals, no significant difference in the level of bone mineralization was detectable between genotypes at either age.