We evaluated the incidence and clinical significance of postfracture shortening of the clavicle in 85 patients. There were 71 mid-clavicular fractures and 14 of the lateral end of the clavicle. 46 fractures were primarily undisplaced and 39 displaced. All fractures were nonoperatively treated with sling immobilization. All patients were reexamined 5 years after the fracture. 35 clavicles had healed with at least 5 mm shortening. Clavicles with originally displaced fractures were shorter and radiologically more frequently malunited. Mobility, strength and the functional Constant score were similar in the injured and normal shoulders. Our findings suggest that permanent shortening of the clavicle is common after fracture, but has no clinical significance.