The mechanical properties of cancellous bone and the biological response of the tissue to mechanical loading are related to deformation and strain in the trabeculae during function. Due to the small size of trabeculae, their motion is difficult to measure. To avoid the need to measure trabecular motions during loading the finite element method has been used to estimate trabecular level mechanical deformation. This analytical approach has been empirically successful in that the analytical models are solvable and their results correlate with the macroscopically measured stiffness and strength of bones. The present work is a direct comparison of finite element predictions to measurements of the deformation and strain at near trabecular level. Using the method of digital volume correlation, we measured the deformation and calculated the strain at a resolution approaching the trabecular level for cancellous bone specimens loaded in uniaxial compression. Smoothed results from linearly elastic finite element models of the same mechanical tests were correlated to the empirical three-dimensional (3D) deformation in the direction of loading with a coefficient of determination as high as 97% and a slope of the prediction near one. However, real deformations in the directions perpendicular to the loading direction were not as well predicted by the analytical models. Our results show, that the finite element modeling of the internal deformation and strain in cancellous bone can be accurate in one direction but that this does not ensure accuracy for all deformations and strains.