Closed rupture of the middle slip of the extensor hood of a finger is easily missed until the late appearance of a buttonhole deformity. Early diagnosis gives the best chance of satisfactory treatment, but Boyes' test becomes positive only at a late stage. A new test is described in which, from a 90 degree flexed position over the edge of a table, the patient tries to extend the proximal interphalangeal joint of the involved finger against resistance. The absence of extension force at the proximal joint and fixed extension at the distal joint are immediate signs of complete rupture of the central slip. The theoretical basis and the method of performing the test are discussed.