BACKGROUND : Osteoporosis prevailing in elderly involves a marked increase in bone resorption showing an initial fall in bone mineral density leading to a significant reduction in bone formation. OBJECTIVE : The present study aimed to investigate the effect of Heamatococcus pluvialis microalgae on osteoporosis in D-galactose-treated rats. The underlying mechanism was tracked targeting the osteoprotegerin (OPG)/ nuclear factor-κβ ligand (RANKL) pathway using micro-computed tomography scanning. METHODS : Osteoporosis was induced in rats by intraperitoneal injection of D-galactose (200 mg/kg/day) for eight consecutive weeks. Osteoporotic rats were orally treated with H. pluvialis biomass (BHP; 450 mg/kg), its polar (PHP; 30 mg/kg) and carotenoid (CHP; 30 mg/kg) fractions for the last 2 weeks of D-Gal injection. Twenty four hours after the last dose of the treatments, tibia bones of the rats were scanned using micro-computed tomography scanning for bone mineral density (BMD), bone volume fraction (BV/TV), trabecular thickness/separation/number (Tb.Th, Tb.Sp, Tb.N) evaluation, blood samples were withdrawn and sera were used for biochemical assessment. Moreover, femur bones were examined histopathologically using several stains. RESULTS : Induction of osteoporosis was associated with a marked reduction in BMD, BV/TV, Tb.Th, Tb.Sp, Tb.N and in serum levels of phosphorus and catalase. On the other hand, a significant elevation in serum levels of calcium, bone alkaline phosphatase (BALP) and interleukin-6 was observed. Moreover, up-regulation of OPG was detected in osteoporotic rats. Oral treatment with BHP, and PHP incremented tibia BMD and serum phosphorus level along with the decrease in serum levels of calcium, BALP, interleukin-6, OPG and RANKL. However, treatment with CHP almost restored all the fore mentioned parameters to normal values. Furthermore, the histopathological evaluation emphasized the biochemical outcomes. CONCLUSIONS : H. pluvialis fractions rich in astaxanthin ameliorated bone loss in experimentally-induced osteoporosis in rats probably through the down-regulation of serum OPG in concurrence with up-regulation of serum RANKL.