An in vivo animal model was used to evaluate overuse and overuse plus intrinsic tendon injury or extrinsic tendon compression in the development of rotator cuff injury. Forty-four male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into groups of 22. Each left shoulder received an intrinsic or extrinsic injury plus overuse (treadmill running), and each right shoulder received only overuse. Eleven rats from each group were sacrificed at 4 and 8 weeks. Supraspinatus tendons were evaluated histologically or geometrically and biomechanically. Ten rats constituted a cage-activity control group. Both supraspinatus tendons of the experimental groups had increases in cellularity and collagen disorganization and changes in cell shape compared with control tendons. Tendons with injury plus overuse exhibited a worse histologic grade than those with overuse alone. The cross-sectional area of both supraspinatus tendons of the experimental rats was significantly more than in control tendons. The area of the injury plus overuse tendons was increased on average compared with overuse-alone tendons. Biomechanically, the tissue moduli of overuse/intrinsic injury tendons at 4 weeks and those of the overuse/extrinsic injury tendons at 8 weeks were significantly lower than in control tendons. Tissue moduli of the overuse/injury tendons were significantly lower than in the overuse-alone tendons at 8 weeks. This study demonstrated that damage to the supraspinatus tendon can be caused by overuse and intrinsic injury, overuse and extrinsic compression, and overuse alone.