The effects of streaming potential, fluid flow and hydrostatic pressure on chondrocyte biosynthesis were studied by comparing the spatial profiles of these physical stimuli to the profiles of biosynthesis within cartilage disks subjected to dynamic unconfined compression. The radial streaming potential was measured using compression frequencies and disk sizes relevant to studies of physical modulation of cartilage metabolism; a general analytical solution to the unconfined compression of a poroelastic cylinder with impermeable, rigid, adhesive platens was derived using potential theory. The solution with adhesive platen boundary conditions, using measured values of cartilage material properties, predicted streaming potentials that were much closer to experimental results between 0.001 and 1 Hz than a solution using frictionless platen boundary conditions. The predicted radial profiles of streaming potential gradient and fluid velocity (but not hydrostatic pressure) were similar to the previously reported radial dependence of proteoglycan synthesis induced by dynamic unconfined compression. Changes in stiffness associated with reduction of disk diameter suggested that the relative contributions of collagen and proteoglycans to cartilage mechanical properties may be a function of loading frequency in unconfined compression; such anisotropies may explain the remaining discrepencies between measured stiffness and stiffness predicted by the present model.