The management of intra-articular calcaneal fractures remains controversial with strong arguments supporting both conservative and operative management. This study assesses the results of open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of displaced intra-articular fractures of the calcaneum in two independent centres where the indications for operative management had been strictly defined.Forty-seven patients (51 fractures) who had sustained such injuries underwent an ORIF performed by one of the senior surgeons using the technique described by Eastwood et al. [JBJS 75-B(1993)189] All of the fractures were assessed by plain X-ray and CT scan and graded according to the Sanders classification [Clin. Orthop. 290(1993)97]. Patients were assessed at a minimum of 2 years post-surgery both clinically and with a standardised questionnaire based on that described by Kerr et al. [Injury 27(1996)35]. The mean age at operation was 42 and 50 years for the two centres, and the mean follow-up was 44 months. Seventy-six per cent of the patients were male. Eighty-eight per cent of the injuries were due to a fall from a height. Fifteen patients had contralateral foot/ankle injuries. Thirty-four of 46 patients were in employment at the time of the injury, 24 of these were in physical jobs and 20 sustained their injury whilst at work.Overall, the satisfaction rate was 90%. Ninety-four per cent of patients in work returned to work at a median of 6 months. Bilateral injuries were associated with a significantly poorer outcome as were those with heel pad pain. Delay to operation greater than 14 days was associated with a higher infection rate. Smoking was not related to infection rate.