Using a prospective, randomized experimental design, 622 college intramural basketball players were stratified by a previous history of ankle sprains to wear a new pair of either high-top, high-top with inflatable air chambers, or low-top basketball shoes during all games for a complete season. Subjects were asked to complete a history questionnaire and were given a complete ankle examination. They were allowed to wear these shoes only during basketball competition. Followed over the course of a 2-month intramural season, 15 ankle injuries occurred during 39,302 minutes of player-time: 7 in high-top shoes, 4 in low-top shoes, and 4 in high-top shoes with inflatable air chambers. The injury rates (injuries per player-minute) were 4.80 x 10(-4) in high-top shoes, 4.06 x 10(-4) in low-top shoes, and 2.69 x 10(-4) in high-top shoes with inflatable air chambers. There was no significant difference among these 3 groups, leading to the conclusion that there is no strong relationship between shoe type and ankle sprains.