We tried to determine whether mineral-equivalent measurements that were obtained using computed tomography could be used to predict the mechanical properties of vertebral trabecular bone. Vertebral bodies that had been obtained during routine autopsy were evaluated by computed tomography. The mechanical properties of the vertebral trabecular bone were determined by subjecting cylindrical specimens to simple compression until failure occurred. The ultimate strength and elastic modulus were determined from load time curves, using constant displacement rate loading. Atomic absorption spectrophotometry was used to determine the weight per cent calcium of each specimen, and quantitative light microscopy was used to determine area fraction bone. Significant positive correlations were found between the observed mechanical properties of the trabecular bone and the equivalent mineral density as measured by computed tomography. Compressive strength (r = 0.720), elastic modulus (r = 0.574), trabecular calcium density (r = 0.780), and area fraction bone (r = 0.579) were all correlated with the equivalent mineral density.