The cruciate ligament of the knee receives its nutrition from a direct vascular supply and by permeation of nutrients from the synovial fluid. The contributions of these two routes as nutritional pathways are not known in detail. In this study, we injected [3H]methyl glucose as a tracer intravenously or directly into the knee of rabbits. Tracer concentrations in plasma, synovial fluid, the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) were analysed by a pharmacokinetic compartment model. The contribution of [3H]methyl glucose permeation from the synovial fluid during steady state was calculated at 44.3% in the PCL and at 39.0% in the LCL. Although these results indicated that more than half the nutrition for both ligaments is provided by its vascular supply, synovial fluid permeation is also an important transport route for small molecules for the PCL and the LCL, which is an extra-articular structure.