A review of the history, mechanism of action, and application of extracorporeal shock wave therapy for chronic plantar fasciitis is presented. The results of 40 feet treated with this modality are reviewed after a mean follow-up time of 8.4 months. All procedures were performed under intravenous sedation and local infiltrative anesthesia. An electrohydraulic shock wave with a mean of 20.6 kV combined with a mean of 2,506 pulses was used. The results of a similar demographic class of patients having undergone a percutaneous plantar fasciotomy at our institution were compared to the results of this cohort of shock wave patients. Eighty-two percent of the patients treated with extracorporeal shock wave therapy were successfully treated as compared to 83% with a percutaneous plantar fasciotomy. The mean score on the 11-point visual analog scale for satisfied patients was 7.9 preoperatively and 2.95 within 7 days postoperatively. After 3 months, the mean visual analog score was 4.2 or 50% of the preoperative value after a mean of 8.4 months following treatment. Eighty-three percent of the patients treated stated that shock wave therapy improved their symptoms. There were no complications encountered in any patient in this study. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is an effective treatment, which significantly reduces the symptoms associated with chronic plantar fasciitis and compares favorably to the results achieved with surgical intervention in the form of a percutaneous plantar fasciotomy.