Radiotherapy is considered to cause detrimental effects on bone tissue eventually increasing bone loss and fracture risk. However, there is a great controversy on the real effects of irradiation itself on osteoblasts, and the mechanisms by which irradiation affects osteoblast differentiation and mineralization are not completely understood. We explored how X-ray radiation influences differentiation and bone-specific gene expression in mouse calvarial osteoblasts. Irradiation at 2 Gy not only increased differentiation and mineralization of the cells, but also upregulated the expression of alkaline phosphatase, type I collagen, osteopontin, and osteocalcin at early stages of differentiation. However, irradiation at higher doses (>2 Gy) did not stimulate osteoblast differentiation, rather it suppressed DNA synthesis by the cells without a toxic effect. Additional experiments suggested that transforming growth factor-beta 1 and runt-transcription factor 2 play important roles in irradiation- stimulated bone differentiation by acting as upstream regulators of bone-specific markers.