Because the chondrocytes of articular cartilage occupy only a small proportion of the total volume of the tissue, the material properties of cartilage are determined primarily by the ECM.

Normal cartilage haswater contents ranging from 65% to 80% of its total wet weight. The remaining wet weight of the tissue is accounted for principally by two major classes of structural macromolecular materials: collagens and proteoglycans. Several other classes of molecules, including lipids, phospholipids, proteins, and glycoproteins, make up the remaining portion of the ECM.