Involvement of mechanical factors in osteoarthrosis (OA) has been well documented. For OA of the human lower limb, the impulse imparted at heelstrike has been suggested as a pathogenic factor. It has also been reported that there is a large amount of variation in the level of impulse experienced by different individuals, and it is suggested that those who experience large impulses are at a greater risk of developing OA. The current study investigated gait patterns of 12 normal subjects to establish the gait determinants responsible for producing large impulses at heelstrike. The results suggest that subtle variations in the early part of the swing phase pattern are responsible for large differences in the impulse experienced at heelstrike; the usually reported gait variables mask these variations.