The biomechanical properties of the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments from 30 New Zealand White rabbits were measured. Because of its complex geometry, the ACL was divided into two portions (medial and lateral) to provide uniform loading. This allowed an examination of the intra-ligamentous properties. A laser micrometer system was used to measure the cross-sectional area for tensile stress and a video dimension analyzer was used to measure the strain. The mechanical properties (stress-strain curves) of the MCL and ACL were different, with the modulus (determined between 4 and 7% strain) in the MCL (1120 +/- 153 MPa) more than twice that of either portion of the ACL (516 +/- 64 and 516 +/- 69 MPa for the medial and lateral portions, respectively). This higher modulus correlated with the more uniform and dense appearance of the collagen fibrils examined with scanning electron microscopy (SEM).