The growth, maintenance and ossification of cartilage are fundamental to skeletal development and are regulated throughout life by the mechanical cues that are imposed by physical activities. Finite element computer analyses have been used to study the role of local tissue mechanics on endochondral ossification patterns, skeletal morphology and articular cartilage thickness distributions. Using single–phase continuum material representations of cartilage, the results have indicated that local intermittent hydrostatic pressure promotes cartilage maintenance. Cyclic tensile strains (or shear), however, promote cartilage growth and ossification. Because single–phase material models cannot capture fluid exudation in articular cartilage, poroelastic (or biphasic) solid/fluid models are often implemented to study joint mechanics. In the middle and deep layers of articular cartilage where poroelastic analyses predict little fluid exudation, the cartilage phenotype is maintained by cyclic fluid pressure (consistent with the single–phase theory). In superficial articular layers the chondrocytes are exposed to tangential tensile strain in addition to the high fluid pressure. Furthermore, there is fluid exudation and matrix consolidation, leading to cell ‘flattening’. As a result, the superficial layer assumes an altered, more fibrous phenotype. These computer model predictions of cartilage mechanobiology are consistent with results of in vitro cell and tissue and molecular biology experiments.