The two most common surgical approaches to total hip arthroplasty are the posterior approach and lateral approach. The surgical approach may influence cup positioning and restoration of the offset, which may affect the biomechanical properties of the hip joint. The primary aim was to compare cup position between posterior approach and lateral approach. Secondary aims were to compare femoral offset, abductor moment arm and leg length discrepancy between the two approaches. Eighty patients with primary hip osteoarthritis were included in a randomized controlled trial and assigned to total hip arthroplasty using posterior approach or lateral approach. Postoperative radiographs from 38 patients in each group were included in this study for measurement of cup anteversion and inclination. Femoral offset, cup offset, total offset, abductor moment arm and leg length discrepancy were measured on preoperative and postoperative radiographs in 28 patients in each group. We found that mean anteversion was 5° larger in the posterior approach group (95% CI, -8.1 to -1.4; p = 0.006), while mean inclination was 5° less steep (95% CI, 2.7 to 7.2; p<0.001) compared with the lateral approach group. The posterior approach group had a larger mean femoral offset of 4.3mm (95% CI, -7.4 to -1.3, p = 0.006), mean total offset of 6.3mm (95% CI, -9.6 to -3; p<0.001) and mean abductor moment arm of 4.8mm (95% CI, -7.6 to -1.9; p = 0.001) compared with the lateral approach group. We found a larger cup anteversion but less steep cup inclination in the posterior approach group compared with the lateral approach group. Femoral offset and abductor moment arm were restored after total hip arthroplasty using lateral approach but significantly increased when using posterior approach.