Thirty-eight osteoarthrotic knees were examined to assess the widths of the femorotibial joint spaces. Radiographs were exposed with the patient lying, in a standing position, and with an adduction and abduction force. Forced compression of the osteoarthrotic joint compartment caused, on average, 18% greater narrowing than when loading it in the standing position. Compared to the joint space at rest, the non-weight-bearing compartment widened by 16% in the standing position and narrowed by 20% when stress was applied. Furthermore, the results showed an increase in laxity proportional to the degree of arthrosis. Stress radiographs significantly display the real cartilage width of both joint compartments. Knowledge of the condition of the articular cartilage in the non-weight-bearing compartment is important when considering a transfer of loading stresses by means of osteotomy.