This investigation presents a new approach in the measurement of the mechanical properties of the ligament substance from tensile testing of a bone-ligament-bone complex. Such basic information should be one of the necessary prerequisites in the evaluation of ligament repair as well as reconstruction by autogenous tissue grafts or artificial ligament implants. The use of a video system permits the determination of tensile strains of the mid-medial collateral ligaments from the canine, swine, and rabbit without mechanically interfering with the ligament deformation during testing. This methodology further eliminates the difficulties of measuring the initial length of the entire medial collateral ligament, as its insertions to bones are ambiguous and cover a large area. It was found that the strain of the ligament substance is consistently and considerably less than specific deformation of the bone-ligament-bone complex. These data suggest that the ligament-bone structure stretches nonuniformly with the highest deformation occurring near or at the ligament insertion sites to bone. Other interesting findings include the variation of tensile strains along the ligament substance for all animal species studied.