A radiologic study of the thoraco-lumbar spine was performed in 143 (117 male and 26 female) athletes (wrestlers, gymnasts, soccer players and tennis players), aged 14 to 25 years and 30 male non-athletes, aged 19 to 25 years. Film interpretation was made after mixing the films from all groups and without knowledge of the individual's identity. Various types of radiologic abnormalities occurred in both athletes and non-athletes but were more common among athletes, especially male gymnasts and wrestlers. Abnormalities of the vertebral ring apophysis occurred exclusively in athletes. Combinations of different types of abnormalities were most common in male gymnasts and wrestlers.