Trauma is the leading cause of death in patients younger than 40 years of age. Thoracic injuries are common and often can be managed by tube thoracostomy. In many patients, however, the thoracic injuries must be repaired surgically in one of three time periods: immediate, urgent, or delayed thoracotomy. In this article, we describe the general approach to effectively managing thoracic trauma patients. We review common injuries and scenarios that may be encountered by the surgeon and discuss the considerations and variables that enter into the decision-making process for operative intervention.