Abstract Early changes in parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTH-rP) and Indian hedgehog (Ihh) expression were examined in equine articular osteochondrosis (OC) as a model of a naturally acquired dyschondroplasia. Cartilage was harvested from OC-affected femoropatellar or scapulohumeral joints from immature horses and normal control horses of similar age. PTH-rP expression levels were assessed by semi-quantitative PCR, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry. Ihh protein expression levels were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Elevated PTH-rP protein and mRNA expression were identified in the deeper layers of affected articular cartilage and the fibrous tissue of interposing clefts. These changes were confined to the chondrocytes in the OC-affected cartilage, which had significantly increased PTH-rP protein and mRNA expression when compared to control cartilages. Ihh protein expression showed similar distribution as PTH-rP in the deeper layers of articular cartilage; however, only a trend for increased Ihh immunostaining was evident in the OC cartilage when compared to the normal cartilage. Increased PTH-rP expression in pre-hypertrophic chondrocytes of diseased OC cartilage suggests a possible link between this peptide and the delayed ossification, which is a consistent histologic alteration in OC. More evidence is necessary to determine the role of Ihh in articular cartilage and if a similar feedback cycle exists as previously described for the growth plate.