Occlusal splints are used for the management of temporomandibular disorders, although their mechanism of action remains controversial. This study investigated whether insertion of an occlusal splint leads to condyle-fossa distance changes, and to mandibular rotation and/or translation. By combining magnetic resonance images with jaw tracking (dynamic stereometry), we analyzed the intra-articular distances of 20 human temporomandibular joints (TMJs) before and after insertion of occlusal splints of 3 mm thickness in the first molar region. For habitual closure, protrusion, and laterotrusion in the contralateral joint, occlusal splints led to minor--yet statistically significant--increases of global TMJ space and to larger increases at defined condylar areas. Condylar end rotation and translation in habitual closure were reduced. Hence, the insertion of a 3-mm-thick occlusal splint led to a change in the topographical condyle-fossa relationship, and therefore to a new distribution of contact areas between joint surfaces.