With a knee-testing device we measured the valgus stiffness of the medial musculoligamentous complex of the knee in five volunteers. Tests were done with the muscles quiescent and with contraction of the sartorius and vastus medialis. Contraction of those muscles substantially increased the valgus stiffness. In eight subjects the voluntary reaction times were measured. With either a visual or a tactile impulse for prophylactic muscle contraction, the muscles acted too slowly to augment the stiffness of the knee so as to prevent injury. In fifty-one volunteers we applied the maximum torque to the leg, just short of eliciting pain, and showed that even then the muscle contraction would occur too late to protect the knee in typical sports situations.