The question of whether or not load affects the remodeling of a transplanted autogenous free graft was addressed by removal of the patella‐patellar tendon‐tibial tubercle complex from the right knees of 15 New Zealand White rabbits. The tubercle was split, and the tendon was divided with each half trimmed to an equal width. The autograft complex was transplanted into a subcutaneous tunnel on the back of the rabbit. Controlled cyclic loads were applied via transcutaneous sutures to half of the graft, while the other half remained unloaded. The mechanical stiffness and strength and the cell density of loaded and unloaded halves of the autograft were measured in nine animals at 3 weeks and in six animals at 6 weeks. Five autografts from four additional rabbits served as unimplanted controls. An analysis of variance showed that the loaded portions of the autografts had a significantly higher failure strength (mean of 90%) and were significantly stiffer (mean of 62%) than the unloaded halves at 3 and 6 weeks. Failure strength was significantly greater (mean of 90%) at 3 weeks than at 6 weeks. The autografts were less stiff and had a lower failure strength than the unimplanted controls, with the greatest difference occurring in the unloaded segments at 6 weeks. Histology revealed that both loaded and unloaded segments demonstrated an increase in cellularity at 6 weeks compared with 3 weeks. This report introduces a model for the study of the effect of load on soft‐tissue grafts and demonstrates that loading affects the remodeling process of a transferred autograft.