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We describe a hip condition with a recognisable pattern of clinical signs and radiological findings thought to result from chronic capsular injury.Between June 2006 and October 2009, ten patients (11 hips), four men and six women, were identified with an abnormality of external rotation at the hip joint. A detailed history and clinical examination was undertaken for each patient. Dynamic magnetic resonance imaging of symptomatic and control hips were evaluated for bony and soft tissue appearances. The relative positions of the femoral head and the acetabulum were assessed through a range of hip rotation.In affected hips, a loss of normal log roll recoil was observed. Three distortions of the iliofemoral ligament were identified on axial MR images; thinning at the lateral insertion of the ligament, attenuation of the iliofemoral ligament most noticeably on maximum external rotation (60°) and the appearance of laxity despite full external rotation.Stability of the hip is dependent on the interaction of bony and soft tissue structures. Hip instability is recognised in dysplasia and is known to lead to premature degeneration of the joint. Chronic capsular injury may destabilise previously asymptomatic hips with subsequent development of pain in young, active patients.