We evaluated whether proinflammatory cytokine expression and myofibroblast recruitment in subacromial bursa was linked to rotator cuff lesions with shoulder stiffness. We analyzed expressions of IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha in subacromial bursa and joint fluid collected from 14 patients with cuff tears with stiffness as a study group (Group I) and 14 patients with rotator cuff tears without shoulder stiffness as a control group (Group II) using real-time RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and ELISA. Myofibroblast apoptosis in subacromial bursa was analyzed using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase -mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate-biotin nick end-labeling (TUNEL) and alpha-smooth muscle actin immunofluorescence staining. Shoulder function was evaluated using the Constant score. Group I had higher mRNA expression (p < 0.001) and immunoreactivities (p < 0.001) of IL-1beta. They also had higher levels of IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha in joint fluid. Increased IL-1beta mRNA expression in the subacromial bursa and IL-1beta levels in joint fluid were correlated with a preoperative deficit in shoulder motion (p < 0.001) and preoperative Constant scores (p < 0.001). Immunofluorescence observations showed that Group I subjects had more myofibroblasts (p < 0.001) than Group II. In Group II, a significant correlation was found between apoptotic myofibroblasts and total myofibroblasts (p = 0.002), but not in Group I (p = 0.510). Increased expression of IL-1beta and myofibroblast recruitment in the subacromial bursa in rotator cuff lesions are linked to shoulder stiffness.