We examined the relationship between patient expectations of total joint arthroplasty and functional outcomes. We surveyed 1799 patients undergoing primary hip or knee arthroplasty for demographic data and Western Ontario McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index scores at baseline, 3 months, and 1 year of follow-up. Patient expectations were determined with 3 survey questions. The patients with the greatest expectations of surgery were younger, male, and had a lower body mass index. Linear regression modeling showed that a greater expectation of pain relief with surgery independently predicted greater reported pain relief at 1 year of follow-up, adjusted for all relevant covariates (P < .05). Patient expectation of pain relief after joint arthroplasty is an important predictor of outcomes at 1 year.