Eleven articulated scoliotic spines were examined radiographically and morphometrically. Measurement of the curve on anteroposterior radiographs of the specimens gave a mean Cobb angle of 70 degrees, though true anteroposterior radiographs of the deformity revealed a mean Cobb angle of 99 degrees (41% greater). Lateral radiographs gave the erroneous impression that there was a mean kyphosis of 41 degrees while true lateral projections revealed a mean apical lordosis of 14 degrees. Morphometric measurements confirmed the presence of a lordosis at bony level, the apical vertebral bodies being significantly taller anteriorly (P less than 0.02). There were significant correlations (P less than 0.01) between the true size of the lateral scoliosis, the amount of axial rotation and the size of the apical lordosis. This study illustrates the three-dimensional nature of the deformity in scoliosis and its property of changing in character and magnitude according to the plane of radiographic projection.