Total knee arthroplasty is a successful procedure to treat pain and functional disability due to osteoarthritis. However, precisely how a total knee arthroplasty changes the kinematics of an osteoarthritic knee is unknown. We used a surgical navigation system to measure normal passive kinematics from 7 embalmed cadaver lower extremities and in vivo intraoperative passive kinematics on 17 patients undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty to address two questions: How do the kinematics of knees with advanced osteoarthritis differ from normal knees?; and, Does posterior substituting total knee arthroplasty restore kinematics towards normal? Osteoarthritic knees displayed a decreased screw-home motion and abnormal varus/valgus rotations between 10° and 90° of knee flexion when compared to normal knees. The anterior-posterior motion of the femur in osteoarthritic knees was not different than in normal knees. Following total knee arthroplasty, we found abnormal varus/valgus rotations in early flexion, a reduced screw-home motion when compared to the osteoarthritic knees, and an abnormal anterior translation of the femur during the first 60° of flexion. Posterior substituting total knee arthroplasty does not appear to restore normal passive varus/valgus rotations or the screw motion and introduces an abnormal anterior translation of the femur during intraoperative evaluation.