Subclinical hypocalcemia may affect half of all multiparous cows, and clinical hypocalcemia or milk fever affects approximately 5% of dairy cows each year. This disorder of calcium homeostasis can be induced by several dietary factors. Recent studies implicate high dietary potassium and high dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) with increased risk of milk fever. The hypothesis tested in this study was that high-DCAD diets fed to prepartum cows reduce tissue sensitivity to parathyroid hormone (PTH), inducing a pseudohypoparathyroid state that diminishes calcium homeostatic responses. Multiparous Jersey cows were fed low- or high-DCAD diets in late gestation, creating a compensated metabolic alkalosis in the high-DCAD cows and a compensated metabolic acidosis in the low-DCAD cows. They then received synthetic PTH injections at 3-h intervals for 48 h. Parathyroid hormone is expected to cause an increase in plasma calcium by increasing renal production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and increasing bone calcium resorption. Plasma calcium concentration increased at a significantly lower rate in cows fed the high-DCAD diet. Cows fed the high-DCAD diet also produced significantly less 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D in response to the PTH injections than cows fed the low-DCAD diet. Serum concentrations of the bone resorption marker carboxyterminal telopeptide of type I collagen were numerically lower in cows fed the high-DCAD diet but this difference was not statistically significant. These data provide direct evidence that high-DCAD diets reduce tissue sensitivity to PTH. The metabolic alkalosis associated with high-DCAD diets likely induces a state of pseudohypoparathyroidism in some dairy cows at the onset of lactation, resulting in hypocalcemia and milk fever.