Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) sounds are very common among patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD), but also in non-patient populations. A variety of different causes to TMJ-sounds have been suggested e.g. arthrotic changes in the TMJs, anatomical variations, muscular incoordination and disc displacement. In the present investigation, the prevalence and type of different joint sounds were registered in 125 consecutive patients with suspected TMD and in 125 matched controls. Some kind of joint sound was recorded in 56% of the TMD patients and in 36% of the controls. The awareness of joint sounds was higher among TMD patients as compared to controls (88% and 60% respectively). The most common sound recorded in both groups was reciprocal clickings indicative of a disc displacement, while not one single case fulfilling the criteria for clicking due to a muscular incoordination was found. In the TMD group women with disc displacement reported sleeping on the stomach significantly more often than women without disc displacement did. An increased general joint laxity was found in 39% of the TMD patients with disc displacement, while this was found in only 9% of the patients with disc displacement in the control group. To conclude, disc displacement is probably the most common cause to TMJ sounds, while the existence of TMJ sounds due to a muscular incoordination can be questioned. Furthermore, sleeping on the stomach might be associated with disc displacement, while general joint laxity is probably not a causative factor, but a seeking care factor in patients with disc displacement.