We have studied the influence of weight-bearing on the measurement of wear of the polyethylene acetabular component in total hip arthroplasty using two techniques. The measured vertical wear was significantly greater when radiographs were taken weight-bearing rather than with the patient supine (p = 0.001, method 1; p = 0.007, method 2). Calculations of rates of linear wear of the acetabular component were significantly underestimated (p < 0.05) when radiographs were taken supine. There are two reasons for this. First, a change in pelvic orientation when bearing weight ensures that the thinnest polyethylene is brought into relief, and secondly, the head of the femoral component assumes the position of maximal displacement along its wear path. Interpretation of previous studies on both linear and volumetric polyethylene wear in total hip arthroplasty should be reassessed in the light of these findings.