Ca homoeostasis is important to human health and tightly controlled by powerful hormonal mechanisms that display ethnic variation. Ethnic variations could occur also in Arctic populations where the traditional Inuit diet is low in Ca and sun exposure is limited. We aimed to assess factors important to parathyroid hormone (PTH) and Ca in serum in Arctic populations. We included Inuit and Caucasians aged 50–69 years living in the capital city in West or in rural East Greenland. Lifestyle factors were assessed by questionnaires. The intake of Inuit diet was assessed from a FFQ. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD2 and 25OHD3) levels were measured in serum as was albumin, Ca and PTH. The participation rate was 95 %, with 101 Caucasians and 434 Inuit. Median serum 25OHD (99·7 % was 25OHD3) in Caucasians/Inuit was 42/64 nmol/l (25, 75 percentiles 25, 54/51, 81) (P<0·001). Total Ca in serum was 2·33/2·29 mmol/l (25, 75 percentiles 2·26, 2·38/2·21, 2·36) (P=0·01) and PTH was 2·7/2·2 pmol/l (25, 75 percentiles 2·2, 4·1/1·7, 2·7) (P<0·001). The 69/97 Caucasians/Inuit with serum 25OHD <50 nmol/l differed in PTH (P=0·001) that rose with lower 25OHD levels in Caucasians, whereas this was not the case in Inuit. Ethnic origin influenced PTH (β=0·27, P<0·001) and Ca (β=0·22, P<0·001) in multivariate linear regression models after adjustment for age, sex, BMI, smoking, alcohol and diet. In conclusion, ethnic origin influenced PTH, PTH response to low vitamin D levels and Ca levels in populations in Greenland. Recommendations are to evaluate mechanisms underlying the ethnic influence on Ca homoeostasis and to assess the impact of transition in dietary habits on Ca homoeostasis and skeletal health in Arctic populations.