It is known that arteries experience significant axial stretches in vivo. Several authors have shown that the axial force needed to maintain an artery at its in vivo axial stretch does not change with transient cyclical pressurization over normal ranges. However, the axial force phenomenon of arteries has never been explained with microstructural considerations. In this paper we propose a simple biomechanical model to relate the specific axial force phenomenon of arteries to the predicted load-dependent average collagen fiber orientation. It is shown that (a) the model correctly predicts the authors' experimentally measured biaxial behavior of pig renal arteries and (b) the model predictions are in agreement with additional experimental results reported in the literature. Finally, we discuss the implications of the model for collagen fiber orientation and deposition in arteries.