Insertion tissue biopsies of right arm common extensor tendons from 11 patients with chronic lateral epicondylitis were processed for light and electron microscopy. The subjects were aged between 38 and 54 years (only one was 25). The specimens showed a variety of structural changes such as biochemical and spatial alteration of collagen, hyaline degeneration, loss of tenocytes, fibrocartilage metaplasia, calcifying processes, neovascularization and vessel wall modifications. Tissue alterations were evident in limited zones of the tendon fibrocartilage in which the surgical resection was generally visible. The areas where the degenerative processes were localized, were restricted and in spatial contiguity with morphologically normal ones. The observed cases presented histological and electron microscopic findings that characterize lateral epicondylitis as a degenerative phenomenon involving all tendon components.