The direction of the first principal stress in the articular disc of the temporomandibular joint was predicted with a biomechanical model of the human masticatory system. The results were compared with the orientation of its collagen fibers. Furthermore, the effect of an active pull of the superior lateral pterygoid muscle, which is directly attached to the articular disc, was studied. It was hypothesized that the markedly antero-posterior direction of the collagen fibers would be reflected in the direction of the tensile stresses in the disc and that active pull of the superior lateral pterygoid muscle would augment these tensions. It was found that the tensile patterns were extremely dependent on the stage of movement and on the mandibular position. They differed between the superior and inferior layers of the disc. The hypothesis could only be confirmed for the anterior and middle portions of the disc. The predicted tensile principal stresses in the posterior part of the disc alternated between antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions.