Abstract Topographic differences in the content of collagen in 3-mm punch necropsies of nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus were studied. A lower collagen content was found at the postero-lateral part of the annulus fibrosus, the weak point where a disc herniation often occurs. The amino acids hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine were used as parameters. Significantly higher contents of hydroxyproline were found in the outer than in the inner part of the annulus fibrosus. Nucleus pulposus had a lower collagen content than the annulus fibrosus. The content of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine in nucleus pulposus was very close to that of ear and nasal septum cartilage. Other tissues of two of the subjects were also studied.