Post-traumatic arthritis is a frequent consequence of articular fracture. The mechanisms leading to its development after such injuries have not been clearly delineated. A potential contributing factor is decreased viability of the articular chondrocytes. The object of this study was to characterise the regional variation in the viability of chondrocytes following joint trauma. A total of 29 osteochondral fragments from traumatic injuries to joints that could not be used in articular reconstruction were analysed for cell viability using the fluorescence live/dead assay and for apoptosis employing the TUNEL assay, and compared with cadaver control fragments. Chondrocyte death and apoptosis were significantly greater along the edge of the fracture and in the superficial zone of the osteochondral fragments. The middle and deep zones demonstrated significantly higher viability of the chondrocytes. These findings indicate the presence of both necrotic and apoptotic chondrocytes after joint injury and may provide further insight into the role of chondrocyte death in post-traumatic arthritis.