Established methods for the measurement of articular cartilage thickness are invasive and cannot be sequentially applied in living subjects. In the present study, the distribution of cartilage thickness throughout entire joint surfaces was determined from MR images obtained with a fat-suppressed gradient-echo sequence at a resolution of 0.31 x 0.31 x 2.00 mm3, and compared to that derived from CT arthrography. A minimal distance algorithm was employed to produce 3D cartilage thickness maps of seven cadaveric human knee joints. The mean amount of deviation of the cartilage volumes was 5.6% (+/- 4.6), statistical analysis showing that there was high agreement between the two methods (r = 0.995, slope = 1.037, y-intercept = -90.5 mm3). The 3D thickness maps yielded a striking agreement between the two methods, the maximum values generally yielding a deviation of none or one thickness interval of 0.5 mm. This investigation shows that accurate 3D assessment of articular cartilage thickness can be performed with MRI, this technique having the advantage that it is suitable for investigating living subjects.