Anterior knee pain is a common presenting complaint amongst adolescent athletes. We hypothesised that patellar tendinopathy may occur at a younger age than is generally recognised. Thus, we studied the patellar tendons in 134 elite 14- to 18-year-old female (n=64) and male (n=70) basketball players and 29 control swimmers (17 female, 12 male) clinically and with ultrasonography. We found that of 268 tendons, 19 (7%) had current patellar tendinopathy on clinical grounds (11% in males, 2% in females). Twenty-six percent of the basketball players' patellar tendons contained an ultrasonographic hypoechoic region. Ultrasonographic abnormality was more prevalent in the oldest tertile of players (17-18 years) than the youngest tertile (14-15.9 years). Of tendons categorised clinically as 'Never patellar tendinopathy', 22% had an ultrasonographic hypoechoic region nevertheless. This study indicates that patellar tendinopathy can occur in 14- to 18-year-old basketball players. Ultrasonographic tendon abnormality is 3 times as common as clinical symptoms.