We have examined 167 patients who had a hemiarthroplasty for three- and four-part fractures and fracture-dislocations of the head of the humerus in a multicentre study involving 12 Austrian hospitals. All patients were followed for more than a year. Anatomical healing of the tuberosity significantly influenced the outcome as measured by the Constant score and subjective patient satisfaction. With regard to pain, the outcome was generally satisfactory but only 41.9% of patients were able to flex the shoulder above 90 degrees. The age of the patient and the type of prosthesis significantly influenced the healing of the tuberosity, but bone grafting did not. Achievement of healing of the tuberosity was inferior in institutions at which less than 15 hemiarthroplasties had been performed (Mann-Witney U test, p = 0.0001).