The preservation of articular cartilage depends on keeping the cartilage architecture intact. Cartilage strength and function depend on both the properties of the tissue and on their structural parameters. The main structural macromolecules are collagen and proteoglycans (aggrecan). During life, cartilage matrix turnover is mediated by a multitude of complex autocrine and paracrine anabolic and catabolic factors. These act on the chondrocytes and can lead to repair, remodeling or catabolic processes like those that occur in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is characterized by degradation and loss of articular cartilage, subchondral bone remodeling, and, at the clinical stage of the disease, inflammation of the synovial membrane. The alterations in osteoarthritic cartilage are numerous and involve morphologic and metabolic changes in chondrocytes, as well as biochemical and structural alterations in the extracellular matrix macromolecules.