An experimental model using a static positioning frame, pressure-sensitive film (Fuji), and a microcomputer-based videodigitizing system was used to measure contact areas and pressures in the wrist. Contact areas and pressures were compared in a group of wrists between the normal state and with simulated distal radius fracture malunions of varying degrees. In simulated malunions, radial shortening to any degree slightly increased the total contact area in the lunate fossa, and was significant at 2 mm of shortening. By angulating the distal radius more than 20 degrees either palmar or dorsal, there was a dorsal shift in the scaphoid and lunate high pressure areas, and the loads were more concentrated, but there was no change in the load distribution between the scaphoid and lunate. Decreasing the radial inclination shifted the load distribution so that there was more load in the lunate fossa and less load in the scaphoid fossa.