We have analysed associated factors in 164 patients with acute compartment syndrome whom we treated over an eight-year period. In 69% there was an associated fracture, about half of which were of the tibial shaft. Most patients were men, usually under 35 years of age. Acute compartment syndrome of the forearm, with associated fracture of the distal end of the radius, was again seen most commonly in young men. Injury to soft tissues, without fracture, was the second most common cause of the syndrome and one-tenth of the patients had a bleeding disorder or were taking anticoagulant drugs. We found that young patients, especially men, were at risk of acute compartment syndrome after injury. When treating such injured patients, the diagnosis should be made early, utilising measurements of tissue pressure.