Thirty-two human vertebral columns were selected from the Kanazawa Collection at the University of Kanazawa, Japan. The superior articular joint surface was categorised into the thoracic type and the lumbar type, and the pattern of the change from one type to the other in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar region was examined. In 21 of 32 cases (66%), the change from the thoracic to the lumbar type occurred over 2 vertebral segments, either between the 12th thoracic and 1st lumbar vertebrae (44%) or between the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae (22%). In the remaining 11 cases (34%), the change occurred over 3 vertebral segments, with a transitional type of articular surface. The change from the thoracic to lumbar type of articular surface has been believed to occur over 2 vertebral segments, but occurs over 3 segments in as many as 34% of the articular surfaces.