Mechanical loading, such as caused by exercise, stimulates bone formation by osteoblasts and increases bone strength, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Osteocytes reside in bone matrix, sense changes in mechanical load, and produce signals that alter bone formation by osteoblasts. We report that the ion channel Piezo1 is required for changes in gene expression induced by fluid shear stress in cultured osteocytes and stimulation of Piezo1 by a small molecule agonist is sufficient to replicate the effects of fluid flow on osteocytes. Conditional deletion of Piezo1 in osteoblasts and osteocytes notably reduced bone mass and strength in mice. Conversely, administration of a Piezo1 agonist to adult mice increased bone mass, mimicking the effects of mechanical loading. These results demonstrate that Piezo1 is a mechanosensitive ion channel by which osteoblast lineage cells sense and respond to changes in mechanical load and identify a novel target for anabolic bone therapy.