The aim of this study was to examine how the interaction between ligament tensions and contact forces guides the knee joint through its specific pattern of passive motion. A computer model was built based on cadaver data. The passive motion and the ligament lengthening and force patterns predicted by the model were verified with data from the literature. The contribution of each ligament and contact force was measured in terms of the rotational moment that it produced about the tibial medial plateau and the anterior-posterior (AP) force that it exerted on the tibia. The high tension of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the geometric constraints of the anterior horns of the menisci were found to be key features that stabilized the knee at full extension. The mutual effect of the cruciates was found as the reason for the screw-home mechanism at early flexion. Past 30°, the AP component of contact force on the convex geometry of the lateral tibial plateau and tension of the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) were identified as elements that control the joint motion. From 60° to 90°, reduction in the tension of the ACL was determined as a reason for continuation of the tibial anterior translation. From 90° to 120°, increase in the tension of the posterior cruciate ligament and the AP component of the contact force on the convex geometry of the lateral tibial plateau pushed the tibia more anteriorly. This anterior translation was limited by the constraining effects of the ACL tension and the AP component of the contact force on the medial meniscus. The important guiding role observed for the LCL suggests that it should not be overlooked in knee models.