Arthrocentesis has an effect of washing out inflammatory products that accumulate in the joint compartment of a dysfunctional temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The procedure removes inflammatory cytokines, which are pain-causing substances, for early reduction of TMJ pain and quick recovery of jaw function, thus increasing the possibility of a successful rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between arthroscopy synovitis grade in patients with unilateral high condylar fractures and concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha as well as of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in washed-out synovial fluid (SF) samples obtained from those patients. A total of 26 patients with unilateral high condylar fractures who underwent arthrocentesis for a therapeutic purpose were examined. SF samples were collected before performing arthroscopy to determine synovitis grade. The detection rates and concentrations of TNF-alpha and MMPs were determined, and their association with synovitis grade was analysed. TNF-alpha was detected in 23 and MMP-3 in 22 of the TMJs. There was a correlation between synovitis grade and concentration of TNF-alpha in the fracture group. Furthermore, the concentrations of TNF-alpha and MMP-3 were significantly higher as compared to the control group, comprised of TMJs on the non-fracture side of the same patients, while a correlation was also noted between TNF-alpha concentration and synovitis grade in the fracture group. The present findings may provide a biological/biochemical rationale for arthrocentesis as a reasonable treatment modality for high condylar fractures.