The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between a low acromion index and osteoarthritis of the shoulder. Three patient groups were used: (I) instability, n = 53; (II) calcifying tendonitis, n = 109; and (III) osteoarthritis, n = 120. Standardised digital X-rays were evaluated from the true anteroposterior and axillary views. Joint space width at three levels in each plane and the size of humeral osteophytes were measured and osteoarthritis was graded according to Samilson. The acromion index was calculated according to Nyffeler et al. (J Bone Joint Surg Am 88:800-805, 2006) in the true anteroposterior view. There were two independent investigators. Interobserver reliability was excellent for all measurements in the anteroposterior (AP) projection but inferior in the axillary projections, especially in group III. The mean acromion index was 0.64 ± 0.07 in group I, 0.64 ± 0.08 in group II and 0.73 ± 0.12 in group III. The acromion index was not correlated with the joint space width nor with the size of the osteophytes or the Samilson grading in group III. The data of the study did not show a significant association between a low acromion index and typical signs of osteoarthritis at the shoulder. The theoretical concept of a small acromion index associated with the development of osteoarthritis of the shoulder is not supported.