Male, 10-week-old C57B1 10 mice received a single intraarticular injection in the knee joints with papain, iodoacetate, or collagenase. This led to osteoarthritic lesions, such as matrix depletion, chondrocyte proliferation, and osteophyte formation, in the injected knee joints within several weeks. After injection of iodoacetate and papain, the main osteoarthritic alterations were localized in the femoropatellar joint, whereas injection of collagenase led to marked osteoarthritic lesions in the femorotibial joint. The mechanism of induction of these alterations appears to differ for iodoacetate and papain on one site and collagenase on the other site. Data are presented that collagenase injection, by way of damaging ligaments and tendons, destabilizes the knee joint eventually leading to osteoarthritic alterations. In contrast, injection of papain or iodoacetate directly interferes with cartilage metabolism resulting in osteoarthritic changes.