The gait of normal subjects and patients with varus deformities at the knee was studied by analyzing the interaction between the dynamic (muscular) and passive (ligamentous) restraints affecting lateral stability of the knee. A statically determinant model predicted that the midstance-phase adducting moment during normal gait would cause lateral knee joint opening if either antagonistic muscle force and/or pretension in the lateral soft tissues were not present at the knee. The patient group tended to compensate for a high midstance-phase adducting moment by walking with a style of gait that demanded more muscle force (greater flexion-extension moments). This walking style reduced the chance of lateral joint opening. It can be speculated that this style of gait would help to maintain equilibrium at the knee. The higher muscle force would aid in resisting the adducting moment, keeping the joint closed laterally and thus increasing the stability of the knee.