Finite element model can estimate bone strength better than BMD. This study used such a model to determine its association with hip fracture risk and found that the strength estimate provided limited improvement over the hip BMDs in predicting femoral neck (FN) fracture risk only. INTRODUCTION: Bone fractures occur only when it is loaded beyond its ultimate strength. The goal of this study was to determine the association of femoral strength, as estimated by finite element (FE) analysis of DXA scans, with incident hip fracture as a single condition or with femoral neck (FN) and trochanter (TR) fractures separately in older men. METHODS: This prospective case-cohort study included 91 FN and 64 TR fracture cases and a random sample of 500 men (14 had a hip fracture) from the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men study during a mean +/- SD follow-up of 7.7 +/- 2.2 years. We analysed the baseline DXA scans of the hip using a validated plane-stress, linear-elastic FE model of the proximal femur and estimated the femoral strength during a sideways fall. RESULTS: The estimated strength was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with hip fracture independent of the TR and total hip (TH) BMDs but not FN BMD, and combining the strength with BMD did not improve the hip fracture prediction. The strength estimate was associated with FN fractures independent of the FN, TR and TH BMDs; the age-BMI-BMD adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI) per SD decrease of the strength was 1.68 (1.07-2.64), 2.38 (1.57, 3.61) and 2.04 (1.34, 3.11), respectively. This association with FN fracture was as strong as FN BMD (Harrell's C index for the strength 0.81 vs. FN BMD 0.81) and stronger than TR and TH BMDs (0.8 vs. 0.78 and 0.81 vs. 0.79). The strength's association with TR fracture was not independent of hip BMD. CONCLUSIONS: Although the strength estimate provided additional information over the hip BMDs, its improvement in predictive ability over the hip BMDs was confined to FN fracture only and limited.