Abstract Mechanics of articular cartilage can be represented using poroelastic theories where fluid and solid displacements are viscously coupled to create a time-dependent spatially heterogeneous behavior. In recent models of this tissue, finite element methods have been used to predict tissue deformation as a function of time for adult articular cartilage bearing a characteristic depth-dependent structure and composition. However, current experimental methods are limited in providing verification of these predictions. The current study presents an apparatus for imaging the radial displacement profile of cartilage in unconfined compression using an ultrasound technique called elastography. We acquired ultrasound A-scans across the lateral diameter of full-thickness cartilage disks containing a thin layer of underlying bone, during axial compression. Elastography was then applied to correlate temporally sequential A-scans to estimate the solid radial displacement profile in articular cartilage while it undergoes compression and stress-relaxation. Both time-dependent and depth-dependent solid radial displacement profiles were obtained with a precision better than 0.2 μm. The results generally agree with predictions of poroelastic models, demonstrating lateral expansion with an effective Poisson's ratio just after completion of the compression phase of the mechanical tests reaching values from 0.18 to 0.4 (depending on compression speed), followed by contraction to lower values. A more restricted movement was observed at both the articular surface and near to the subchondral bone than at regions midway between these two locations.