Optimal management of cervical cord injury in the presence of documented instability and/or compression of neural elements remains a controversial topic. Surgery and internal stabilization of cervical spine fracture/dislocations are effective and well accepted, but controversy exists on the relative merits of the anterior versus the posterior approach as well as the optimal timing of surgical intervention. We report our experience with the Caspar technique and instrumentation for anterior stabilization in 54 patients for acute cervical spine injury. Our series consists of 38 male and 16 female patients whose ages ranged from 16 to 68 years, with a mean age of 29.2 years. Thirty-two of these patients had complete neurological sensory/motor deficits at the time of presentation, eight were neurologically intact, and 14 had preservation of some motor and sensory function. All 54 patients had radiographic evidence of posterior instability as well as anterior disruption of either a vertebral body or intervertebral disk. We found that "early" intervention (less than 24 hours after injury) was performed frequently in the neurologically compromised patients. Twelve of the 22 patients undergoing surgery less than 24 hours after admission regained significant neurological function, with 13 of 22 developing postoperative complications. In the "delayed" group (surgery more than 24 hours after injury, mean 14.3 days), 14 patients experienced postoperative complications, with 15 of 24 demonstrating neurological improvement. The eight patients who were intact did uniformly well. There was no mortality during the follow-up. All 54 patients showed a solid fusion (clinically and radiologically) within 6 months of surgery. In two cases the plates had to be removed, without risking the fusion. Our experience suggests that although anterior cervical fusion and Caspar plating remain appropriate for patients with documented anterior compromise of the canal, it should not substitute for more traditional posterior stabilization procedures. Because this route has the potential for more serious complications, it should be reserved for the cases in which anterior decompression is deemed necessary or posterior fusion was unsuccessful. With appropriate selection of patients, no adverse effect of early surgery was demonstrated. In fact, neurologically compromised patients had the benefits of increased ease of patient care and early transfer to rehabilitation.