The purpose of this study was to investigate whether performance level and ball spin affect arm and racket kinematics of the table tennis topspin forehand. Nine advanced and eight intermediate male table tennis players hit topspin forehands against light and heavy backspins. Five high-speed video cameras were used to record their strokes at 200 fps. Contributions of joint rotations to the racket speed, the racket kinematics at ball impact, the time required for racket acceleration and the maximum slope of the racket speed-time curve (s(max)) were determined. The advanced players showed a significantly larger contribution of lower trunk axial rotation to the racket speed at impact and a significantly larger value of s(max), and tended to require a less time for racket acceleration than the intermediate players. The racket speed at impact was not significantly different between the two player groups. The players adjusted the racket face angle rather than the inclination of the racket path at impact to the different ball spins. The results suggest that the ability to accelerate the racket in less time in the topspin forehand against backspin balls may be an important factor that affects the performance level.