Background: Following shoulder arthroplasty, any well-planned rehabilitation program should include muscle strengthening. However, it is not always clear how different external loads influence shoulder kinematics in patients with shoulder prostheses. The objective of this study was to describe shoulder kinematics and determine the contribution of the scapulothoracic joint to total shoulder motion of patients with total and reverse shoulder arthroplasties and of healthy individuals during rehabilitation exercises (anteflexion and elevation in the scapular plane) using different loading conditions (without external load, 1 kg and elastic resistance). Methods: Shoulder motions were measured using an electromagnetic tracking device. A force transducer was used to record force signals during loaded conditions using elastic resistance. Statistical comparisons were made using a three-way repeated-measures analysis of variance with a Bonferroni post hoc testing. Findings: The scapula contributed more to movement of the arm in subjects with prostheses compared to healthy subjects. The same applies for loaded conditions (1 kg and elastic resistance) relative to unloaded tasks. For scapular internal rotation, upward rotation and posterior tilt no significant differences among groups were found during both exercises. Glenohumeral elevation angles during anteflexion were significantly higher in the total shoulder arthroplasty group compared to the reverse shoulder arthroplasty group. Interpretation: Differences in contribution of the scapula to total shoulder motion between patients with different types of arthroplasties were not significant. However, compared to healthy subjects, they were. Furthermore, scapular kinematics of patients with shoulder arthroplasty was influenced by implementation of external loads, but not by the type of load. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.