The effect of various air gaps on computed radiographic musculoskeletal images was investigated using a knee phantom. Scatter to primary radiation ratios were measured using the beam stop method at air gaps ranging from 0 to 30 in. (0–762-mm). Bony trabecular sharpness, line pair resolution, quantum mottle and visualization of low-contrast beads in the soft tissues were evaluated. A significant reduction of scatter to primary radiation ratio, from a value of almost 1 at table top to about 0.4 at 10-in. (254-mm) air gap and about 0.2 at 25-in. (635-mm) air gap placement of the computed radiography (CR) imaging plate, was obtained. A progressive improvement in bony trabecular sharpness and line pair resolution, compared with the table top and Bucky images was observed on 10-in. (254-mm) through 25-in. (635-mm) air gap images. Sharpness of the bony trabeculae and line pair resolution were best on the 25-in. (635-mm) air gap images. The skin entrance radiation dose does not have to be increased for air gap digital radiography. The radiographic noise or quantum mottle is highest on the Bucky image, higher on air gap images and minimal on the table top images, despite a high scatter to primary radiation ratio at the table top. The lower quantum mottle on the table top images allowed for maximal visualization of low contrast densities in the soft tissues. Air gap radiography further improves musculoskeletal computed imaging by reducing the scatter to primary radiation ratio without an increase in the skin entrance dose. For significant reduction of the scatter to primary radiation ratio and best evaluation of line pair spatial resolution and bony trabeculae, a 25-in. (635-mm) air gap with digital radiography would be optimal. For evaluation of low contrast densities in the soft tissues, table top placement would be the technique of choice.