A subjective, objective and radiographic study of 21 patients with comminuted calcaneal fractures showing severe involvement of the subtalar joint is reported. The average follow-up was 14.6 years (range 8 to 29 years). Only patients with unilateral closed fractures and no associated injuries to either lower limb were admitted to the study. All were treated by early active mobilisation of the ankle, and the subtalar and the midtarsal joints. Seventy-six per cent of the patients achieved a good result with minor symptoms which did not interfere with their occupation or leisure requirements. Although two-thirds of the patients reached a point of maximal recovery at two to three years, 24% continued to improve for six years. None of the patients experienced any deterioration after this time. Neither the degree of clinical stiffness nor the degeneration of the subtalar joint, assessed radiographically, correlated with the severity of symptoms or functional disability. The role of the soft tissues in the aetiology of residual symptoms is discussed.