The objective of this study was to assess the association between obesity and osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, hip, and hand. OA patterns were studied in 809 patients with knee or hip joint replacement due to OA. Patients with OA were categorized as having bilateral or generalized OA according to the presence of radiographic OA in the contralateral joint or different finger joints, and as normal weight, overweight, or obese according to their body mass index (BMI). Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for relative weight and OA patterns were estimated with multivariable logistic regression. Eighty-five percent of participants had bilateral OA, 26% had generalized OA, and 31% were obese. Obesity (BMI >/= 30 kg/m(2); OR = 8.1; 95% CI: 2.4-28) and overweight (BMI >/= 25 kg/m(2); OR = 5.9; 95% CI: 2.0-18) were strongly associated with bilateral knee OA. No association between obesity and bilateral hip OA (OR = 0.7; 95% CI: 0.3-1.7) nor generalized OA (OR = 1.1; 95% CI: 0.6-2.1) was observed. Obesity seems to be a mechanical rather than a systemic risk factor for OA with the knee joint being especially susceptible.