A series of 95 patients with fresh fractures of the shaft of the tibia, treated primarily with a Vidal-Adrey transfixation frame, was studied retrospectively. Only 20 fractures (21.0 per cent) attained clinical and radiological consolidation within 4 months after injury. Pseudoarthrosis was seen in 12 patients (12.9 per cent). The external fixator was attached for an average time of 25.0 weeks. Pin loosening was seen in seven patients (7.3 per cent), minor pin track infection in nine (9.4 per cent) and major pin track infection in three (3.1 per cent). In 31 patients (32.6 per cent) a second operative procedure was necessary to accelerate fracture healing. In 17 patients an autologous bone graft was carried out with the external fixator in place. Internal stabilization was performed after removal of the external fixator frame in 14 cases, at an average time of 9.4 months after injury. In difficult fractures we feel that change from external to internal fixation should be performed earlier; it makes early removal of the fixator pins possible and prevents the problems associated with prolonged use of fixator frames. The internal fixation, eventually combined with a transplantation of cancellous autografts, creates a mechanical and biological stimulus for bone consolidation. Functional recovery may also be improved because of a shorter healing time.