For the dedicated athlete in whom minor injuries are frequent and major injuries relatively common, a noninvasive knee assessment could either obviate the need for arthroscopy or focus its direction. The opportunity to study asymptomatic athletes was not feasible before the advent of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this preliminary work, we examined 40 knees in 20 asymptomatic volunteer athletes, including five professional basketball players and 15 collegiate football players. Images were obtained at 0.5 T or 1.5 T. Spin echo sequences were used to obtain 5.0 mm thick coronal and sagittal sections. Fifty percent of asymptomatic athletes (10/20) had significant baseline MRI abnormalities that could have adversely affected scan interpretation in the context of an acute injury. Half of these athletes with MRI abnormalities, or 25% of the total (5/20), had no previous surgery and were unaware of significant injury.