In human cadavers we were able to show that the glenohumeral joint is comparable to the model of a physical piston. The labrum glenoidale functions like a valve against atmospheric pressure. It is possible to characterize the behavior of intraarticular negative pressure by the equation (formula; see text). The calculations of the force F of atmospheric pressure tending to resist distraction of the joint surfaces leads to a 95% confidence interval from 6.9 to 22.9 kp. Under a general anesthetic, distraction of the healthy glenohumeral joint also produces negative intraarticular pressure in the area of the fossa glenoidalis in vivo. Joints with a labral tear (Bankart defect) and a chronic instability are not characterized by this phenomenon. A change in intraarticular pressure might stimulate intraarticular pressure receptors. This could be important in functioning as a neuromuscular protection reflex for the joint.