Introduction The ABG I acetabular insert is an ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) component used in primary hip arthroplasty. Studies have shown early osteolysis and aseptic loosening of the ABG I uncemented cup compared with other implants. Theories advocate that loosening is initiated by the biological response to insert wear debris; wear volume and the distribution of particle size are considered to be important parameters. This study analysed explanted plastic inserts to identify any mechanical properties that may have contributed to early failure.Materials and Methods 21 ABG I acetabular components were revised due to aseptic loosening over a 16 month period. Silicone casts of the insert sockets were made and volumetric analysis performed using a shadowgraphing technique and a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). The UHMWPE inserts were divided into uniform pieces with a diamond-tipped microsaw and analysed for hardness, wear, stress and strain properties using a microhardness tool, pin-on-plate analysis and small punch testing. We performed identical tests on explanted inserts from other manufacturers.Results We present the findings of the above tests and provide suggestions as to why these particular implants are more prone to early failure when compared with other common implants. We also discuss the results of volumetric analysis by shadowgraphing compared with CMM.