PURPOSE: Increased tibial tuberosity-trochlear groove distance (TTTG) is one potential correcting parameter in patients suffering from lateral patellar instability. It was hypothesized that end-stage extension of the knee might influence the TTTG distance on MR images. METHODS: Transverse T1-weighted MR images of the knee were acquired at full extension, 15° and 30° flexion of the knee in 30 asymptomatic volunteers. MRI parameters: slice thickness: 3 mm, matrix: 256 × 384, FOV: 150 × 150 mm. Two observers independently measured the TTTG at all positions. RESULTS: Mean TTTG for observer 1 was 15.1 ± 3.2 mm at full extension, 10.0 ± 3.5 mm at 15° flexion and 8.1 ± 3.4 mm at 30° flexion. Mean TTTG for observer 2: 14.8 ± 3.3 mm at full extension, 9.4 ± 3.0 mm at 15° flexion, 8.6 ± 3.4 mm at 30° flexion. Mean values were significantly different (p < 0.001) between full extension and 15° as well as 30° flexion for both observers. Mean values were significantly different (p < 0.001) between 15° and 30° for observer 1, but not for observer 2 (n.s.). Interobserver agreement was very good (intraclass correlation coefficient: 0.87-0.88; p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The TTTG increases significantly at the end-stage extension of the knee. Therefore, the comparability of published TTTG values measured on radiographs, CT and MRI at various flexion/extension angles of the knee are limited. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Development of diagnostic criteria in a consecutive series of patients and a universally applied 'gold' standard, Level II.