Objective The aim of the study was to evaluate the possible effects of impact and loading on the metacarpal cartilage and hand functions in young elite athletes. Design In this cross-sectional study athletes with at least 3 yrs of sport background and who have been under a scheduled training program were enrolled. The second to fifth fingers' metacarpal head cartilage thicknesses were measured bilaterally by using ultrasonography. Handgrip and pinch strengths were measured. Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire was also completed for every participant. Results A total of 42 male athletes (19 weightlifters, 23 volleyball players) and 46 healthy control subjects were enrolled. Metacarpal cartilage thicknesses of the athletes were thicker than those of the healthy controls (all P < 0.001). There were no differences between the dominant and nondominant hands (all P > 0.05). In the weightlifting group, Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire work performance and pain scores were worse than the other groups (both P < 0.001). Conclusions The presence of increased cartilage thickness measurements in the athletes suggests that sports activities might affect the metacarpal articular cartilage. Highest pain scores and lowest work performance scores in the weightlifters with highest metacarpal cartilage thickness might suggest that impact and loading during their sports play could lead to cartilage edema.