Twenty-six patients with rheumatoid disease affecting the cervical spine underwent surgical treatment for neck pain, neurological deficit, or both. Atlantoaxial subluxation (n=13), subaxial subluxation (n=7) and vertical migration of the odontoid (n=6) were treated. Arthrodesis with autologous bone was augmented with wire, Ransford loop, Hartshill rectangle or Magerl technique. Pain relief occurred in 92% of patients. Neurological deficit improved in 89% and was unchanged in the remainder. Radiographic stability was achieved in all but one patient. Posterior surgery effectively relieved pain and neurological deficit, and the complications encountered did not jeopardize the outcome.