Occlusal abnormality may contribute to osteoarthrosis of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Since mechanical force may induce changes in the extracellular matrix, we tested the hypothesis that unilateral removal of teeth and the resulting unilateral mastication change the content of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in the TMJ condyle and disc. Lower-right-side teeth were extracted from 12 adult male rabbits, which were killed 3 or 6 weeks later. Three normal rabbits served as controls. Sections were analyzed for morphological changes and levels of sulfated GAGs in the condyle and disc. Unilateral removal of teeth led to thickening of the condylar cartilage, alterations in the morphology of chondrocyte nuclei in the condylar cartilage and disc, and increases in levels of negatively charged ions in the hypertrophic layer of condylar cartilage. Small differences were observed, after unilateral removal of teeth, between the functional and non-functional sides of the TMJ. The results suggest that in response to mechanical stress, chondrocytes alter sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAGs) synthesis and degradation rates, resulting in an elevated level of sulfated GAGs in the condylar cartilage.