Blunt traumatic pericardial rupture is rarely diagnosed preoperatively and is associated with high mortality. During a ten-year period from 1979 to 1989 over 20,000 patients were admitted to a major trauma center and 22 were found to have blunt traumatic pericardial rupture. Sixteen of the 22 (72.7%) were injured in vehicle accidents, 3 (13.6%) in motorcycle crashes, and 2 (9.1%) in falls; 1 (4.5%) was crushed. Eighteen (81.8%) were diagnosed intraoperatively during resuscitation or surgery for associated injuries, and four (18.1%) were diagnosed preoperatively with pericardial window. Eighteen were males and four were females. The median age was 40.14 years (range, 17 to 68). The tears were found at the following sites: left pleuropericardial (14/22 [64%]), diaphragmatic (4/22 [18%]), right pleuropericardial (2/22 [9%]), and superior mediastinal (2/22 [9%]). Associated cardiac injuries were found in only 5 of the 22 (22.7%); all of those patients died. The overall mortality rate was 63.6% (14/22). A high index of suspicion should alert the trauma surgeon to make the diagnosis intraoperatively during emergency surgical resuscitation in the hemodynamically unstable patient and by pericardial window in the stable patient.