The pericellular matrix (PCM) is a region of tissue that surrounds chondrocytes in articular cartilage and together with the enclosed cells is termed the chondron. Previous studies suggest that the mechanical properties of the PCM, relative to those of the chondrocyte and the extracellular matrix (ECM), may significantly influence the stress-strain, physicochemical, and fluid-flow environments of the cell. The aim of this study was to measure the biomechanical properties of the PCM of mechanically isolated chondrons and to test the hypothesis that the Young's modulus of the PCM varies with zone of origin in articular cartilage (surface vs. middle/deep). Chondrons were extracted from articular cartilage of the canine knee using mechanical homogenization, and the elastic properties of the PCM were determined using micropipette aspiration in combination with theoretical models of the chondron as an elastic incompressible half-space, an elastic compressible bilayer, or an elastic compressible shell. The Young's modulus of the PCM was significantly higher than that reported for isolated chondrocytes but over an order of magnitude lower than that of the cartilage ECM. No significant differences were observed in the Young's modulus of the PCM between surface zone (24.0 +/- 8.9 kPa) and middle/deep zone cartilage (23.2 +/- 7.1 kPa). In combination with previous theoretical biomechanical models of the chondron, these findings suggest that the PCM significantly influences the mechanical environment of the chondrocyte in articular cartilage and therefore may play a role in modulating cellular responses to micromechanical factors.