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Four hundred and fifty patients (840 knees) underwent axial computed tomography of the knee in a prospective study to evaluate the ability of this technique to identify and characterize meniscal tears. One hundred and thirty-three of the knees subsequently had diagnostic arthroscopy. When compared with the findings at arthroscopy, the sensitivity of computed tomography was 96.5 per cent, the specificity was 81.3 per cent, and the accuracy was 91.0 per cent. The precise protocol for the method of computed tomographic scanning that was employed and the criteria that were used to interpret the images are presented. We found computed tomography to be a valuable non-invasive method for the detection and characterization of meniscal tears.