This study compared the effects of preoperative physical therapy of general cardiovascular conditioning exercises with the routine procedure of no preoperative physical therapy on patients undergoing primary total knee replacement. Thirty patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups. Group 1 was the control group. Group 2 participated in a physical therapy program designed to strengthen the upper and lower limbs and improve knee range of motion. Group 3 participated in a cardiovascular conditioning program, consisting of arm ergometry, cycle ergometry, aquatic exercises, and aerobic activity. All patients were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively using the Hospital for Special Surgery Knee Rating, the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale, and the Quality of Well Being instrument. Both experimental groups tolerated their respective exercise protocols extremely well. All 3 groups showed significant improvement postoperatively as measured by the Hospital for Special Surgery Knee Rating, the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale and the Quality of Well Being measurement scales. However, neither type of preoperative exercise added to the degree of improvement after surgery at any of the postoperative evaluations.