Fractures are the most common large-organ, traumatic injuries to humans. The repair of bone fractures is a postnatal regenerative process that recapitulates many of the ontological events of embryonic skeletal development. Although fracture repair usually restores the damaged skeletal organ to its pre-injury cellular composition, structure and biomechanical function, about 10% of fractures will not heal normally. This article reviews the developmental progression of fracture healing at the tissue, cellular and molecular levels. Innate and adaptive immune processes are discussed as a component of the injury response, as are environmental factors, such as the extent of injury to the bone and surrounding tissue, fixation and the contribution of vascular tissues. We also present strategies for fracture treatment that have been tested in animal models and in clinical trials or case series. The biophysical and biological basis of the molecular actions of various therapeutic approaches, including recombinant human bone morphogenetic proteins and parathyroid hormone therapy, are also discussed.