100 consecutive patients with a recent anterior cruciate ligament injury were examined with respect to type of sports activity that caused the injury, mechanism of injury and the occurrence of collateral ligament and meniscal lesions. There were 53 medial collateral ligament injuries, 12 medial, 35 lateral and 11 bicompartmental meniscal lesions. 59 patients were injured during contact sports, 30 in downhill skiing and 11 in other recreational activities, traffic accidents or at work. An associated medial collateral ligament tear was more common in skiing (22/30) than during contact sports (23/59), whereas a bicompartmental meniscal lesion was found more frequently in contact sports (9/59) than in skiing (0/30). Weightbearing was reported by 56/59 of the patients with contact sports injuries and by 8/30 of those with skiing injuries. Non-weightbearing in the injury situation led to the same rate of MCL tears (18/28) as those reporting weightbearing (35/72) but significantly more intact menisci (19/28 vs 23/72). Thus, contact sports injuries were more often sustained during weightbearing, with a resultant joint compression of both femuro-tibial compartments as shown by the higher incidence of bicompartmental meniscal lesions. This might be an important prognostic factor for future joint disease and arthrosis. The classic "unhappy triad" was a rare finding (8/100) and we suggest that this entity should be replaced by the "unhappy compression injury".