HIV-infected patients are at increased risk of decreased bone mineral density. Some studies have implicated antiretroviral therapy as a contributor to the decreased bone mineral density seen in treated HIV-1 patients. In this study we explore the interactions between protease inhibitors (PI) and primary human osteoblast gene expression, highlighting a group of dysregulated genes that potentially are key factors in reducing bone formation. Runx-2 mRNA expression, calcium deposition, and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity decreased significantly in human osteoblast cultures after exposure to the PIs nelfinavir (NFV) and indinavir (IDV). Saquinavir (SQV), ritonavir (RTV), indinavir (IDV), or nelfinavir (NFV) exposure induced significant changes in genotypic expression as assessed by gene-chip microarray analysis. The altered genes from each group were compared to each other and a list of 8 upregulated and 13 downregulated genes only after NFV and IDV exposure was identified. This set includes TIMP-3, which has previously been demonstrated to be involved in osteoblast differentiation and extracellular matrix development processes. Silencing TIMP-3 mRNA expression using siRNA duplexes enhanced calcium deposition and ALP activity significantly, even after exposure to NFV and EDV. Our data suggest a link between reduced osteoblastic phenotype and a group of 21 altered genes following NFV and IDV treatment, and also suggest TIMP-3 may be involved in the PI-induced inhibition of osteoblast function.