In the northeast of Brazil, caprine arthritis-encephalitis (CAE) is one of the key reasons for herd productivity decreasing that result in considerable economic losses. A comparative study was carried out using computed radiography (CR), histological analysis (HA), and scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) of the joints of CAE infected and normal goats. Humerus head surface of positive animals presented reduced joint space, increased bone density, and signs of degenerative joint disease (DJD). The carpal joint presented no morphological alterations in CR in any of the animals studied. Tarsus joint was the most affected, characterized by severe DJD, absence of joint space, increased periarticular soft tissue density, edema, and bone sclerosis. Histological analysis showed chronic tissue lesions, complete loss of the surface zone, absence of proteoglycans in the transition and radial zones and destruction of the cartilage surface in the CAE positive animals. Analysis by SEM showed ulcerated lesions with irregular and folded patterns on the joint surface that distinguished the limits between areas of normal and affected cartilage. The morphological study of the joints of normal and CAE positive goats deepened understanding of the alteration in the tissue bioarchitecture of the most affected joints. The SEM finding sustained previous histological reports, similar to those found for rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting that the goat infected with CAE can be considered as a potential model for research in this area. Microsc. Res. Tech. 77:11–16, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.