Apoptosis refers to cell death without inflammatory process, and is related to degenerative changes in joints. We hypothesized that zoledronic acid (ZA) would have a positive effect on chondrocyte viability and decreases in chondrocyte loss, which are important for the progression of degeneration. This study aimed to reveal the difference in time-dependent apoptotic changes in cartilage tissue in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) transection model of osteoarthritis (OA) in rat knees after treatment with zoledronic acid. We randomly divided 48 male Wistar albino rats into 6 groups. The knees of all rats except those in the control group underwent the operation for ACL transection. ZA for half of the rats and saline solution for the others was injected weekly into knees. Animals were killed at 0, 3, and 6 weeks after surgery. Apoptosis of chondrocytes were analyzed using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling method. Comparison of groups was performed using Kruskal Wallis analysis and the Mann Whitney U test. Significant differences were observed between the groups treated with ZA and saline. ZA treatment significantly decreased the number of apoptotic cells in chondral tissue. ZA prevents time-dependent degenerative changes in chondral tissue by decreasing chondrocyte death. Intra-articular ZA may have the potential to treat and conserve chondral viability. ZA prevents chondrocyte loss and may play a therapeutic role in OA and conserving joint health. Further studies are needed to evaluate the potential of intraarticular ZA for the prevention or treatment of age-related degenerative changes.