BACKGROUND: The authors conducted a retrospective study to evaluate the mechanism of injury, the surgical techniques, the clinical features, the combined injuries, the treatment results, and the surgical complications in patients with atlantoaxial fracture/subluxations. METHODS: The authors reviewed 71 cervical fracture/dislocations during a four-year period from September 2002 to August 2006. Among them, there were twenty one C1,2 fracture/subluxations. There were thirteen men (mean age: 43.5 years) and eight women (mean age: 50 years). Their follow-up period was at least 6 months, and the mean follow-up period was 9.6 months. Gardner-Wells tongs traction was used in all patients immediately on presentation. Surgical treatment was performed, depending on the pathologic conditions. RESULTS: Of all 21 cases, 14 cases were injured in motor vehicle accidents, 5 were falls, and 2 were miscellaneous. There were four C1 fracture (5.6%), fourteen C2 fracture (66.7%), one C1 and 2 combined fracture (4.8%), and one C1-2 subluxation (4.8%). The C1 fractures in our series were classified as two Jefferson's fractures and two C1 lateral mass fracture. The C2 fractures were classified as one odontoid type I fracture, two odontoid type II fractures, five odontoid type III fractures, one hangman's fracture, and four C2 body tear-drop fractures. Atlantoaxial fractures were associated with six (28.6%) head injuries, four (19.0%) other spinal injuries, two (9.5%) chest injuries, and three (14.3%) spinal cord injuries. Surgical treatment was performed in nine cases, which included anterior odontoid screw fixation in two cases, transarticular screw fixation with iliac bone graft in one case, posterior fixation by using C2 pedicle screw and C3 lateral mass screw in three cases, lateral mass screw fixation C1-2 with iliac bone graft in one case, O(occipito)-C1-3-4 screw fixation in one case, posterior C2-3 wiring with allograft in one case, and halo vest in six cases. Conservative management was used in the rest of the patients in our trials. Bone fusion was complete in all cases. There were no operation-related complication, except one pin site infection in the case of halo vest. CONCLUSION: In this study, the choice of appropriate treatment according to the fracture types resulted in safe and effective management of unique atlantoaxial fracture/subluxations.