Substantial evidence attests to the capability of the joint to undergo morphological alteration in response to biomechanical forces transmitted to it during function. Measurements expressing the size of mandibular condyles and fossae were obtained from skulls representative of a broad spectrum of subsistence practices and tooth use. Craniofacial dimensions were measured for some groups. Considerable differences in joint size were noted between groups roughly consistent with known or presumed intensity of masticatory stress. Size was largest in the hunter-gatherers, intermediate in aboriginal horticulturalists and smallest in 20th century American caucasoids and 17th century British. In each group, male joint size was absolutely larger than females. With the exception of condylar breadth, male joint dimensions were not relatively larger than female when corrected for differences in craniofacial size. In contrast, same-sex comparisons of Eskimo and American caucasoid means adjusted for differences in craniofacial size showed joint size in Eskimos to be significantly larger, both absolutely and relatively. Eskimo females had relatively larger joints than American caucasoid males. Thus, intergroup differences in joint size persist even when differences in craniofacial size are taken into account. Although the influence of genetic factors cannot be excluded, differences in the nature or intensity of tooth use during growth may account, at least in part, for the observed differences in joint size.