The shape of the acromion differs between patients with degenerative rotator cuff tears and individuals without rotator cuff pathology.It can be assessed in the sagittal plane (acromion type, acromion slope) and in the coronal plane (lateral acromion angle, acromion index, critical shoulder angle).The inter-observer reliability is better for the measurements in the coronal plane.A large lateral extension (high acromion index or high critical shoulder angle) and a lateral down-sloping of the acromion (low lateral acromion angle) are associated with full-thickness supraspinatus tears.The significance of glenoid inclination for rotator cuff disease is less clear.The postulated patho-mechanism is the compression of the supraspinatus tendon between the humeral head and the acromion. Bursal side tears might be caused by friction and abrasion of the tendon. Articular side tears could be due to impairment of the gliding mechanism between tendon fibrils leading to local stress concentration. Further research is needed to understand the exact pathomechanism of tendon degeneration and tear. Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2017;2. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.2.160076. Originally published online at www.efortopenreviews.org.