Trendelenburg's test of function of the hip joint was first reported before radiology was available. At least four methods of performing it have since been described in the literature. We examined 50 normal subjects and 103 people with disorders affecting either the spine or the hip, in order to determine the different responses that occurred when they were asked to stand on one leg. This has enabled us to define a standard method of performing the Trendelenburg test, and to interpret the test as a method of assessing hip abductor function. The major pitfalls that result in misinterpretation, or false-positive responses, are pain, lack of cooperation from the patient, and impingement between the rib cage and the iliac crest. False-negative responses result from the patient using muscles above and below the pelvis, and from leaning beyond the hip on the standing side.