Joint trauma can lead to a spectrum of acute lesions, including osteochondral fractures, ligament or meniscus tears and damage to the articular cartilage. This is often associated with intraarticular bleeding and causes posttraumatic joint inflammation. Although the acute symptoms resolve and some of the lesions can be surgically repaired, joint injury triggers a chronic remodeling process in cartilage and other joint tissues that ultimately manifests as osteoarthritis in a majority of cases. The objective of the present review is to summarize information on pathogenetic mechanisms involved in the acute and chronic consequences of joint trauma and discuss potential pharmacological interventions. The focus of the review is on the early events that follow joint trauma since therapies for posttraumatic joint inflammation are not available and this represents a unique window of opportunity to limit chronic consequences.