OBJECTIVES:To compare balance in individuals with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA) and in age-, gender- and body-mass-matched controls using simple clinical measures. METHODS:Thirty-three people with OA and 33 controls participated. Static postural sway [antero-posterior (AP), lateral and total] was measured using a swaymeter on two different surfaces and under two visual conditions. Dynamic standing balance was assessed using the 'step test'. RESULTS:Both groups displayed similar postural sway on most variables measured. Significantly greater sway was noted in the OA group on a firm surface in both lateral (eyes open) and AP directions (eyes closed), as well as total sway (eyes closed) (P < 0.05). Poorer dynamic standing balance was observed in the OA group as evidenced by the step test (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS:Balance deficits can be identified in the osteoarthritic population using simple, inexpensive measures. However, the clinical relevance of the small deficits identified remains unknown and warrants further investigation.