SUMMARY: The Global Longitudinal study of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW) is a prospective cohort study involving 723 physicians and 60,393 women subjects >or=55 years. The data will provide insights into the management of fracture risk in older women over 5 years, patient experience with prevention and treatment, and distribution of risk among older women on an international basis. INTRODUCTION: Data from cohort studies describing the distribution of osteoporosis-related fractures and risk factors are not directly comparable and do not compare regional differences in patterns of patient management and fracture outcomes. METHODS: The GLOW is a prospective, multinational, observational cohort study. Practices typical of each region were identified through primary care networks organized for administrative, research, or educational purposes. Noninstitutionalized patients visiting each practice within the previous 2 years were eligible. Self-administered questionnaires were mailed, with 2:1 oversampling of women >or=65 years. Follow-up questionnaires will be sent at 12-month intervals for 5 years. RESULTS: A total of 723 physicians at 17 sites in ten countries agreed to participate. Baseline surveys were mailed (October 2006 to February 2008) to 140,416 subjects. After the exclusion of 3,265 women who were ineligible or had died, 60,393 agreed to participate. CONCLUSIONS: GLOW will provide contemporary information on patterns of management of fracture risk in older women over a 5-year period. The collection of data in a similar manner in ten countries will permit comparisons of patient experience with prevention and treatment and provide insights into the distribution of risk among older women on an international basis.