Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures lead to a proprioceptive deficit and therefore joint position sense. This study examined whether active motion is better suited than passive motion to address this deficit. Sixty patients with ACL rupture were prospectively randomised into two groups [continuous active motion (CAM)/continuous passive motion (CPM)]. All patients had an ACL reconstruction. An angle reproduction test was used to assess the proprioceptive deficit. The relevant examinations were performed before surgery (pre-op evaluation) and after the seventh postoperative day. No preoperative difference was found between the two groups. After postoperative treatment, the deficit was reduced in both groups. Significantly better results were, however, obtained in the CAM group (CPM, 4.2+/-1.6 degrees; CAM, 1.9+/-1.2 degrees; P<0.001). During the first postoperative week, a CAM device produced a significantly greater reduction in the proprioceptive deficit and should be the first choice in immediately postoperative rehabilitation after ACL replacement.