This study compared the condyle/disk relationships on magnetic resonance images (MRIs) in a group of subjects with completely silent temporomandibular joints (TMJ) when tested clinically with those in subjects with readily discernible TMJ sounds. The sounds were recorded with an accelerometer as the transducer. Selected degrees of jaw separation were electronically determined and recorded with interocclusal wafers for use with the imaging process. Of the "silent joints" 89% were found to have sounds when tested with the accelerometer. These "subclinical" sounds tended to be of shorter duration and occurred at a greater degree of vertical opening than the clinically discernable sounds. The MRIs of the group with clinically discernable sounds tended to show a change in the relationship between the head of the condyle and the intermediate zone of the disk, at the degree of jaw separation of the sound occurrence, whereas no condyle/disk change occurred in the group with "clinically silent joints." It is likely that all joints create sound during function. The different characteristics of the subclinical sounds versus the clinical sounds may indicate differing sound origins. © 1992 the American Association of Orthodontists.