We performed a retrospective review of finger syndactyly releases at Shriners Hospital for Children, Houston Unit, between January 1983 and January 1993. This study was performed in an attempt to compare the long-term postoperative function in patients after release of syndactyly resulting from Poland's syndrome with that in patients with idiopathic forms of syndactyly. Only patients with one involved hand were included in this study. The contralateral hand was used as a control. Twenty-seven patients with only one hand involved underwent syndactyly release during this period. Of these, 13 patients who underwent a total of 30 syndactyly releases were available for evaluation. For each patient, the type of syndactyly was determined. Each patient was subjected to a detailed physical examination and participated in occupational-therapy modalities. We noted statistically significant differences in function between operated-on and control hands in the Poland's group, whereas operated-on hands affected with idiopathic forms of syndactyly did not demonstrate significantly different function compared with contralateral controls. These data suggest that functional deficits in hands affected by Poland's syndrome are attributable to more than the syndactyly alone. Hands affected by idiopathic forms of syndactyly are likely to have little postoperative functional deficit.