Compared to articular cartilage, the biomechanical properties of costal cartilage have not yet been extensively explored. The research presented addresses this problem by studying for the first time the anisotropic elastic behavior of human costal cartilage. Samples were taken from 12 male and female cadavers and unconfined compression and indentation tests were performed in mediolateral and dorsoventral direction to determine Young’s Moduli EC for compression and Ei5%, Ei10% and Eimax at 5%, 10% and maximum strain for indentation. Furthermore, the crack direction of the unconfined compression samples was determined and histological samples of the cartilage tissue were examined with the picrosirius-polarization staining method. The tests revealed mean Young’s Moduli of EC = 32.9 ± 17.9 MPa (N = 10), Ei5% = 11.1 ± 5.6 MPa (N = 12), Ei10% = 13.3 ± 6.3 MPa (N = 12) and Eimax = 14.6 ± 6.6 MPa (N = 12). We found that the Young’s Moduli in the indentation test are clearly anisotropic with significant higher results in the mediolateral direction (all P = 0.002). In addition, a dependence of the crack direction of the compressed specimens on the load orientation was observed. Those findings were supported by the orientation of the structure of the collagen fibers determined in the histological examination. Also, a significant age-related elastic behavior of human costal cartilage could be shown with the unconfined compression test (P = 0.009) and the indentation test (P = 0.004), but no gender effect could be detected. Those results are helpful in the field of autologous grafts for rhinoplastic surgery and for the refinement of material parameters in Finite Element models e.g. for accident analyses with traumatic impact on the thorax.