Articular cartilage experiences significant mechanical loads during daily activities. Healthy cartilage provides the capacity for load bearing and regulates the mechanobiological processes for tissue development, maintenance, and repair. Experimental studies at multiple scales have provided a fundamental understanding of macroscopic mechanical function, evaluation of the micromechanical environment of chondrocytes, and the foundations for mechanobiological response. In addition, computational models of cartilage have offered a concise description of experimental data at many spatial levels under healthy and diseased conditions, and have served to generate hypotheses for the mechanical and biological function. Further, modeling and simulation provides a platform for predictive risk assessment, management of dysfunction, as well as a means to relate multiple spatial scales. Simulation-based investigation of cartilage comes with many challenges including both the computational burden and often insufficient availability of data for model development and validation. This review outlines recent modeling and simulation approaches to understand cartilage function from a mechanical systems perspective, and illustrates pathways to associate mechanics with biological function. Computational representations at single scales are provided from the body down to the microstructure, along with attempts to explore multiscale mechanisms of load sharing that dictate the mechanical environment of the cartilage and chondrocytes. © 2012 Biomedical Engineering Society.