Background: Osteoporotic hip fractures occur due to loss of cortical and trabecular bone mass and consequent degradation in whole bone strength. The direct cause of most fractures is a fall, and hence, characterizing the mechanical behavior of a whole osteopenic bone under impact is important. However, very little is known about the mechanical interactions between cortical and trabecular bone during impact, and it is specifically unclear to what extent epiphyseal trabecular bone contributes to impact resistance of whole bones. We hypothesized that trabecular bone serves as a structural support to the cortex during impact, and hence, loss of a critical mass of trabecular bone reduces internal constraining of the cortex, and, thereby, decreases the impact tolerance of the whole bone. Methods: To test this hypothesis, we conducted cortical strain rate measurements in adult chicken's proximal femora subjected to a Charpy impact test, after removing different trabecular bone core masses to simulate different osteopenic severities. Results: We found that removal of core trabecular bone decreased by ∼10-fold the cortical strain rate at the side opposite to impact (p < 0.01), i.e. from 359,815 ± 1799 μm/m per second (mean ± standard error) for an intact (control) specimen down to 35,997 ± 180 μm/m per second where 67% of the total trabecular bone mass (∼0.7 grams in adult chicken) were removed. After normalizing the strain rate by the initial weight of bone specimens, a sigmoid relation emerged between normalized strain rate and removed mass of trabecular bone, showing very little effect on the cortex strain rate if below 10% of the trabecular mass is removed, but most of the effect was already apparent for less than 30% trabecular bone loss. An analytical model of the experiments supported this behavior. Conclusion: We conclude that in our in vitro avian model, loss of over 10% of core trabecular bone substantially altered the deformation response of whole bone to impact, which supports the above hypothesis and indicates that integrity of trabecular bone is critical for resisting impact loads.