Spinal segments show non-linear behavior under axial compression. It is unclear to what extent this behavior is attributable to the different components of the segment. In this study, we quantified the separate contributions of vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs to creep of a segment. Secondly, we investigated the contribution of bone and osteochondral endplate (endplates including cartilage) to the deformation of the vertebral body. From eight porcine spines a motion segment, a disc and a vertebral body were dissected and subjected to mechanical testing. In an additional test, cylindrical samples, machined from the lowest thoracic vertebrae of 11 porcine spines, were used to compare the deformation of vertebral bone and endplate. All specimens were subjected to three loading cycles, each comprising a loading phase (2.0 MPa, 15 min) and a recovery phase (0.001 MPa, 30 min). All specimens displayed substantial time-dependent height changes. Average creep was the largest in motion segments and smallest in vertebral bodies. Bone samples with endplates displayed substantially more creep than samples without. In the early phase, behavior of the vertebra was similar to that of the disc. Visco-elastic deformation of the endplate therefore appeared dominant. In the late creep phase, behavior of the segment was similar to that of isolated discs, suggesting that in this phase the disc dominated creep behavior, possibly by fluid flow from the nucleus. We conclude that creep deformation of vertebral bodies contributes substantially to creep of motion segments and that within a vertebral body endplates play a major role. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.