The sagittal reference axes used for setting of the femoral component vary according to surgical methods. The purpose of the study was to clarify the relation of the sagittal reference axis with the anteroposterior (AP) length of the distal femur at the time of determining the femoral component size. Fifty consecutive varus osteoarthritic knees with primary total knee arthroplasty were divided into two groups according to surgical methods (intramedullary and extramedullary groups) and were examined based on CT data. AP length of the distal femur changed nearly 0.6 mm corresponding to each 1° flexion of the sagittal reference axis. The size of the femoral component in the intramedullary group was larger than that in the extramedullary group. The sagittal reference axis had an influence on the component size.