Whether adjacent collagen fascicles transmit force in parallel is unknown. The purpose of the present study was to examine the magnitude of lateral force transmission between adjacent collagen fascicles from the human patellar and Achilles tendon. From each sample two adjacent strands of fascicles (phi 300-530 mum) enclosed in a fascicular membrane were dissected. The specimen was deformed to approximately 3% strain in three independent load-displacement cycles in a small-scale tensile testing device. Cycle 1: the fascicles and the fascicular membrane were intact. Cycle 2: one fascicle was transversally cut while the other fascicle and the fascicular membrane were kept intact. Cycle 3: both fascicles were cut in opposite ends while the fascicular membrane was left intact. A decline in peak force of 45% and 55% from cycle 1 to cycle 2, and 93% and 92% from cycle 2 to cycle 3 was observed in the patellar and Achilles tendon fascicles, respectively. A decline in stiffness of 39% and 60% from cycle 1 to cycle 2, and of 93% and 100% from cycle 2 to cycle 3 was observed in the patellar and Achilles tendon fascicles, respectively. The present data demonstrate that lateral force transmission between adjacent collagen fascicles in human tendons is small or negligible, suggesting that tendon fascicles largely act as independent structures and that force transmission principally takes place within the individual fascicles.