We identified 16 patients with a mean age of 56.5 years (31 to 86) from a large consecutive series of patients with proximal humeral fractures over a 15-year period, who had sustained a fracture with skin compromise after a blunt injury. The study group represented 0.2% of 7825 proximal humeral fractures treated during this period and all had a displaced Neer two-part fracture pattern. Two patterns of skin injury were identified: in ten patients there was skin penetration at the time of the original injury, and the other six patients initially had closed injuries. These six patients had fracture fragments penetrating the muscular envelope to lie subcutaneously producing either early skin tethering (two patients) or delayed skin penetration and sinus formation (four patients). The pattern of injury to the soft-tissue envelope and the fracture pattern were similar for all injuries. Treatment of these injuries was determined by the initial severity of the soft-tissue injury and the medical status of the patient. We currently favour open reduction and internal fixation of these fractures wherever possible, owing to the high rate of nonunion with non-operative management.