The human facet joint capsule is one of the structures in the lumbar spine that constrains motions of vertebrae during global spine loading (e.g., physiological flexion). Computational models of the spine have not been able to include accurate nonlinear and viscoelastic material properties, as they have not previously been measured. Capsules were tested using a uniaxial ramp-hold protocol or a haversine displacement protocol using a commercially available materials testing device. Plane strain was measured optically. Capsules were tested both parallel and perpendicular to the dominant orientation of the collagen fibers in the capsules. Viscoelastic material properties were determined. Parallel to the dominant orientation of the collagen fibers, the complex modulus of elasticity was E^{*}=1.63MPa, with a storage modulus of E^{′}=1.25MPa and a loss modulus of: E^{″}=0.39MPa. The mean stress relaxation rates for static and dynamic loading were best fit with first-order polynomials: $B\epsilon =0.1110\epsilon \u22120.0733$ and $B\epsilon =\u22120.1249\epsilon +0.0190,$ respectively. Perpendicular to the collagen fiber orientation, the viscous and elastic secant moduli were 1.81 and 1.00 MPa, respectively. The mean stress relaxation rate for static loading was best fit with a first-order polynomial: $B\epsilon =\u22120.04\epsilon \u22120.06.$ Capsule strength parallel and perpendicular to collagen fiber orientation was 1.90 and 0.95 MPa, respectively, and extensibility was 0.65 and 0.60, respectively. Poisson’s ratio parallel and perpendicular to fiber orientation was 0.299 and 0.488, respectively. The elasticity moduli were nonlinear and anisotropic, and capsule strength was larger aligned parallel to the collagen fibers. The phase lag between stress and strain increased with haversine frequency, but the storage modulus remained large relative to the complex modulus. The stress relaxation rate was strain dependent parallel to the collagen fibers, but was strain independent perpendicularly.

*Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Fall Conference*, 2003.

*Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living Tissues*, Springer Verlag, New York.

*Primer of Biostatistics*, McGraw-Hill, New York.

*Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living Tissues.*, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 226–238.