Three patients with joint stiffness caused by trauma or infection are reported. The involved joints are the interphalangeal joint of the thumb, patellofemoral joint, and ankle joint. As an alternative for the indicated arthrodesis in these patients, treatment with articulating joint distraction was performed. By use of adapted Ilizarov external ring fixators, gradual distraction was applied to loosen the joint, followed after loosening by a period of exercise during distraction. In all three patients this experimental approach led to a decrease in pain and improvement of joint function that persisted for at least 2 years after treatment. With the use of Ilizarov joint distraction, joint function in cases of joint stiffness may be restored, and the need for an arthrodesis can be postponed.