A vitamin B6-deficiency-induced disorder in avian articular cartilage resembling osteoarthritis has been further characterized. We measured several parameters of proteoglycan (PG) metabolism, i.e., fixed charge density and sulfated glycosaminoglycans (S-GAG) content in PN-deficient versus control articular cartilage and synovial fluid from the knee joint. Statistically significant changes were: 1) decreased content and increased extractability of total sulfated PGs from articular cartilage with guanidine HCl; 2) elevation of S-GAG concentration in synovial fluid; 3) increased plasma cystathionine (sulfur amino acid) levels. PG synthesis as assessed by 35SO4 incorporation into S-GAGs was not impaired. A lack of cartilage swelling in 0.15 M saline and the normal water content indicated that although disturbed, the collagen network was not disrupted. This finding was in agreement with a previous microscopic study that revealed no fissures in the articular cartilage. Previous findings of a normal aggregating PG size-distribution and absence of elevated metalloproteases made a disturbance of aggregating PG metabolism unlikely. Escape into the synovial fluid of small PGs, normally bound to articular collagen, was believed to result from an alteration in collagen molecular organization that could be secondary to elevated circulating SH-compounds.