A new 2 T 3-element orthogonal knee coil array based on the three-dimensional orthogonality principle was designed, constructed and used in a series of pilot magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies on a standardized phantom, and human and pig knees. The coil elements within this new coil array are positioned orthogonal to one another allowing problematic mutual coupling effects to be minimized without the use of any passive mutual decoupling schemes. The proposed method is appropriate for the design of transmit, receive and/or transceive radiofrequency (RF) coil arrays for applications in animal/human MRI and spectroscopic studies. Experimental results demonstrated that the 3-element orthogonal knee coil array could be angled arbitrarily, including at 90°, relative to the main static magnetic field (B0) whilst maintaining normal operation with minimal loss of efficiency and functionality. Initial trials with a pig knee specimen further showed that the greatest signal intensity in the patellar ligament (parallel collagen fibres) was observed when the orthogonal knee coil array and the pig knee specimen were angled at ~55° to B0, which may have potential uses in magic angle MR applications. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.