[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Shaped cartilage grafts can be used in the restoration of injured joints and the reconstruction of deformities of the head and neck. This study describes a novel method for altering cartilage shape, based on the hypothesis that mechanical loading coupled with in vitro tissue growth and remodeling facilitates tissue reshaping. Static bending deformations were imposed on strips of immature articular cartilage, and retention of the imposed shape and structural and biochemical measures of growth were assessed after 2, 4, and 6 days of incubation. The results show that mechanical reshaping of tissue is feasible, because shape retention was greater than 86% after 6 days of culture. The imposed mechanical deformations had little effect on measures of tissue viability or growth within the 6-day culture period. The addition of cycloheximide to the culture medium only slightly reduced the ability to reshape these tissues, but cycloheximide plus a lower culture temperature of 4 degrees C markedly inhibited the reshaping response. These results suggest a limited role for chondrocyte biosynthesis but a potentially important role for metabolic reactions in the cartilage matrix in the reshaping process. The ability to modulate cartilage shape in vitro may prove useful for tissue engineering of shaped cartilage grafts.