The results of percutaneous vertebroplasty with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) of vertebral metastases were evaluated by a retrospective review of a consecutive series of 21 patients, with special reference to functional outcome. Patients complained of vertebral pain in all cases. Walking was impossible for 13 patients. Ten patients presented neurological deficit. Treatment included percutaneous vertebroplasty in all patients, radiotherapy in 15 patients and neural decompression surgery in 3 patients. Mean duration of hospitalization was 14.1 days (range 2-60 days) and the mean follow-up was 5.6 months (range 1-18 months). Preprocedural pain, measured by the visual analog scale (VAS), was 9.1, decreasing to 3.2 after the procedure and 2.8 at the last follow-up visit. Morphinics were discontinued in 7 of 14 patients following discharge from hospital. Ten out of 13 (77%) patients recovered walking capacity. Neurological status improved in three out of five patients. No further vertebral compression occurred in the vertebrae treated. Overall, 81% of the patients in this study were satisfied or very satisfied with the procedure. One patient (5%) had transitory radicular neuritis after the procedure. No major complications were observed. In conclusion, percutaneous vertebroplasty with PMMA proved to be safe and beneficial, providing significant and early improvement in the functional status of patients with spinal metastasis.