The purpose of this study was to determine whether a brace designed to unload varus degenerative knees actually alters medial compartment loads by decreasing the adduction moment. Eleven patients who had arthrosis confined to the medial compartment were fitted with a valgus brace and tested before and after brace wear with pain and function scoring instruments and by automated gait analysis. The biomechanical data from these patients were compared with those from 11 healthy control subjects. Scores from an analog pain scale decreased 48% with brace wear, and function with activities of daily living increased 79%. Mean adduction moment without the brace measured 4.0 +/- 0.8% body weight times height versus 3.6 +/- 0.8% body weight times height when wearing the brace (10% decrease). The mean adduction moment for control subjects was 3.5 +/- 0.6% body weight times height. Thus, the mean adduction moment decreased from approximately one standard deviation from the normal mean to a value that is similar to the control value. Nine of 11 patients had a decrease in the adduction moment with the brace, five of 11 patients had a reduction higher than 10%, and decreases in this moment were as high as 32%. This study shows that pain, function, and biomechanical knee loading can be altered by a brace designed to unload the medial compartment of the knee.