Background: There is emerging evidence for a beneficial effect of meat consumption on the musculoskeletal system. However, whether it affects the risk of knee and hip osteoarthritis is unknown. We performed a prospective cohort study to examine the relationship between meat consumption and risk of primary hip and knee replacement for osteoarthritis. Methods. Eligible 35,331 participants were selected from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study recruited during 1990-1994. Consumption of fresh red meat, processed meat, chicken, and fish was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. Primary hip and knee replacement for osteoarthritis during 2001-2005 was determined by linking the cohort records to the Australian National Joint Replacement Registry. Results. There was a negative dose-response relationship between fresh red meat consumption and the risk of hip replacement (hazard ratio (HR) 0.94 per increase in intake of one time/week, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89-0.98). In contrast, there was no association with knee replacement risk (HR 0.98, 95% CI 0.94-1.02). Consumption of processed meat, chicken and fish were not associated with risk of hip or knee replacement. Conclusion. A high level consumption of fresh red meat was associated with a decreased risk of hip, but not knee, joint replacement for osteoarthritis. One possible mechanism to explain these differential associations may be via an effect of meat intake on bone strength and hip shape. Further confirmatory studies are warranted.