Twelve fresh-frozen knee specimens from cadavera were subjected to anterior-posterior laxity testing with 200 newtons of force applied to the tibia; testing was performed before and after a femoral load-cell was connected to a mechanically isolated cylindrical cap of subchondral femoral bone containing the femoral origin of the posterior cruciate ligament. The posterior cruciate ligament then was removed, the proximal end of a thin trial isometer wire was attached to one of four points designated on the femur, and displacement of the distal end of the wire relative to the tibia was measured over a 120-degree range of motion. The potted end of a ten-millimeter-wide bone-patellar ligament-bone graft was centered over the femoral origin of the ligament and attached to the femoral load-cell. Isometry measurements were repeated with the wire attached to the bone block of the free end of the graft in the tibial tunnel. Force was recorded at the load-cell (representing force in the intra-articular portion of the graft) as pre-tension was applied, with use of a calibrated spring-scale, to the tibial end of the graft. A laxity-matched pre-tension of the graft was determined such that the anterior-posterior laxity of the reconstructed knee at 90 degrees of flexion was within one millimeter of the laxity that was measured after installation of the load-cell. Anterior-posterior testing was repeated after insertion of the graft at the laxity-matched pre-tension.The least amount of change in the relative displacement of the trial wire over the 120-degree range of flexion occurred when the wire was attached to the proximal point on the femur (a point on the proximal margin of the femoral origin of the posterior cruciate ligament, midway between the anterior and posterior borders of the ligament). The greatest change in the relative displacement was associated with the anterior point (a point on the anterior margin of the femoral origin of the ligament, midway between the proximal and distal borders). The mean relative displacements of the trial wire when it was attached to a point at the center of the femoral origin of the ligament were not significantly different from the corresponding mean displacements of the distal end of the graft when the proximal end of the graft was centered at this point. At 90 degrees of flexion, the force recorded by the load-cell averaged 64 to 74 per cent of the force applied to the tibial end of the graft. The laxity-matched pre-tension of the graft at 90 degrees of flexion (as recorded by the load-cell) ranged from six to 100 newtons (mean and standard deviation, 43.0 ± 33.4 newtons). With the numbers available, the mean laxities after insertion of the graft were not significantly different, at any angle of flexion, from the corresponding mean values after installation of the load-cell.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Isometer readings from a trial wire attached to a point on the femur provided an accurate indication of the change in the length of a graft subsequently centered at that point. Anteriorly placed femoral tunnels should be avoided, as the isometer readings indicated increased tension, with flexion of the knee, in a graft placed in this region. The force in the intra-articular portion of the graft was always less than the force applied to the bone block in the tibial tunnel. Therefore, the femoral end of the graft should be tensioned to avoid frictional losses from the severe bend in the graft as it passes over the posterior tibial plateau. With correct pre-tensioning of a graft, normal anterior-posterior laxity at 0 to 90 degrees of flexion can be restored. However, because of the considerable range in the laxity-matched pre-tensions, we recommend that the pre-tension be greater than forty-three newtons for all patients to ensure that normal laxity is restored.