An axisymmetric finite element code was used to predict stresses and displacements in the proximal tibia of the human knee. Joint geometries were determined from a midfrontal section of a normal lateral tibial plateau. Constitutive relations, tibiofemoral forces and joint contact areas were estimated from the literature. Fourier expansions were used to provide localized loading over the assumed contact region. The results emphasize that subchondral trabecular bone serves to transmit the large loads applied to the cartilage surface by gradually concentrating these loads into the compact bone of the tibial diaphysis. The model predicts a nearly hydrostatic stress state in articular cartilage within the contact region and high tensile principal strains at the edge of the contact region. For trabecular bone, the model predicts maximum compressive stresses beneath the center of the contact region and maximum shear stresses beneath the edge of the contact region. The predicted principal stress directions in the continuum representation for trabecular bone also bear a strong resemblance to the trabecular architecture of the lateral tibial plateau.