Functioning parathyroid adenomas of the oxyphil cell type are rare, and the clinical characteristics of patients with these tumors have not been well defined. We describe two cases of severe primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) caused by benign oxyphil parathyroid adenomas. The patients' clinical presentations mimicked parathyroid carcinoma. Both had very large tumors associated with marked elevations in PTH and serum calcium levels. Skeletal manifestations were also atypical for benign PHPT, with severe osteoporosis in one patient and osteitis fibrosa cystica in the other. These cases also highlight the remarkable capacity of the skeleton to recover after successful parathyroidectomy, previously reported in other forms of severe PHPT. Bone mineral density improved dramatically 1 yr after parathyroidectomy, with increases of 51% at the lumbar spine, 36% at the total hip, and 11% at the distal one third radius. Most of the increases occurred in the first postoperative months. Consistent with this early and accelerated skeletal response, markers of bone turnover were increased 2 months after surgery and normalized by 8 months postoperatively. In patients with PHPT who present with severe or atypical clinical features, oxyphil adenoma should be considered.