Vertebral fracture prevalence and severity were analyzed by sex and age in an age-stratified proportionate sample of the enumerated population of women and men 50 years of age and older in Saunders County, Nebraska. The sample consisted of 899 women and 529 men. Of these, all but 10 women and 2 men had readable lateral spine radiographs. For both sexes, fracture prevalence rises with age. Women in their fifties have 10% vertebral fracture prevalence, and women in their eighties, 45% prevalence. Men in their fifties have 29% prevalence, and men in their eighties, 39% prevalence. The rise in prevalence and total spinal deformity with age is much greater for women than for men, but the prevalence of vertebral deformity in the fifties is much greater in men than in women.