Studies to elucidate the pathophysiology of osteoarthrosis have been hampered by the lack of a rapid, reproducible animal model that mimics the histopathology and symptoms associated with the disease. The aim of this study is to evaluate the radiological, histological and histomorphometrical findings of four different concentrations of sodium iodoacetate (MIA) to create osteoarthrosis by using an arthrocentesis technique on rabbit temporomandibular joint (TMJ). 12 New Zealand white male rabbits received an injection of MIA (50 mu l dose of 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 mg/ml concentrations) to a single joint of each group by arthrocentesis. Computed tomography (CT) images were obtained pre- and post-injections at 2, 4 and 6 weeks. Early osteoarthritic changes in the rabbit TMJ were found histologically at 4 weeks and with a 3 mg/ml concentration of MIA. The mean subchondral bone volume depended on the concentration of MIA and was 62 +/- 2.6%, 63 +/- 4.1%, 42 +/- 3.6% and 38 +/- 3.8%, respectively. A minor abnormality was found on CT in six joints at the 4-week follow up. MIA injection and arthrocentesis offer a rapid and minimally invasive method of reproducing histologically osteoarthrotic lesions in the rabbit TMJ.