Exposure to space radiation may pose a risk to skeletal health during subsequent aging. Irradiation acutely stimulates bone remodeling in mice, although the long-term influence of space radiation on bone-forming potential (osteoblastogenesis) and possible adaptive mechanisms are not well understood. We hypothesized exposure to ionizing radiation impairs osteoblastogenesis in an ion-type specific manner, with low doses capable of modulating expression of redox-related genes. 16-week old, male, C57BL6/J mice were exposed to low linear-energy-transfer (LET) protons (150 mega electron volts per nucleon) or high-LET (sup 56) Fe ions (600 mega electron volts per nucleon) using either low (5 or 10 centigrays) or high (50 or 200 centigrays) doses at NASAs Space Radiation Lab at Brookhaven National Lab (NSRL/BNL). Tissues were harvested 5 weeks or 1 year after irradiation and bones were analyzed by microcomputed tomography for cancellous microarchitecture and cortical geometry. Marrow-derived, adherent cells were grown under osteoblastogenic culture conditions. Cell lysates were analyzed for select groups by RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) during the proliferative phase or the mineralizing phase, and differentiation was analyzed by imaging mineralized nodules (percentage surface area). Representative genes were selected for expression analyses, including cell proliferation (PCNA, Cdk2, p21, p53), differentiation (Runx2, Alpl, Bglap), oxidative metabolism (Catalase, GPX, MnSOD, CuZnSOD, iNos, Foxo1), DNA-damage repair (Gadd45), or apoptosis (Caspase 3). As expected, a high dose (200 centigrays), but not low doses, of either (sup 56) Fe or protons caused a loss of cancellous bone volume per total volume. Marrow cells produced mineralized nodules ex vivo regardless of radiation type or dose; (sup 56) Fe (200 centigrays) inhibited median nodule area by more than 90 percent at 5 weeks and 1 year post-irradiation, compared to controls. At 5 weeks post exposure, irradiation with protons or (sup 56) Fe caused few changes in gene expression levels during osteoblastogenesis, although a high dose of (sup 56) Fe (200 centigrays) increased levels of Catalase and Gadd45. In addition, supplementing cell culture media with SOD protected marrow-derived osteoprogenitors from the damaging effects of exposure to low-LET ((sup 137) Cs gamma) if irradiated in vitro, but had limited protective effects on high-LET (sup 56) Fe-exposed cells. In sum, exposure of mice to either protons or (sup 56) Fe at a relatively high dose (200 cGy) caused persistent bone loss, whereas only high-LET (sup 56) Fe increased expression of redox-related genes and inhibited osteoblastogenesis, albeit to a limited extent. We conclude that high-LET irradiation impaired osteoblastogenesis and regulated steady-state gene expression of select redox-related genes during osteoblastogenesis, which may contribute to persistent bone loss.