Micro-Proton Induced X-ray Emission (mu-PIXE) and Proton Induced Gamma-ray Emission (PIGE) techniques were employed in the investigation of trace and essential elements distribution in normal and diseased human femoral head sections affected by osteoarthritis (OA). PIGE was exploited in the determination of elements of low atomic number z < 15 such as Na and F whereas elements with z > 15 viz Ca, Z, P and S were determined by PIXE. Accumulations of key elements in the bone and cartilage sections were observed, significant S and Na concentrations being found in the cartilage region particularly in normal tissues. Zn showed enhanced concentrations at the bone cartilage interface. At a synchrotron facility, small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) was utilized on a decalcified human femoral head section affected by OA, direct measurements being made of spatial alterations of collagen fibres. The SAXS results showed a slight decrease in the axial periodicity between normal collagen type I and that in diseased tissue in various sites, in contrast with the findings of others. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.