BACKGROUND: This retrospective comparative study aims to evaluate the surgical outcomes and complications of two surgical methods for simple fractures of the humeral shaft; minimally invasive anterior plating and open reduction combined with internal fixation. METHODS: A total of 26 patients with humeral shaft simple fractures, who had surgery between June 2009 and September 2013 and were followed-up at least 12 months, were included in our analysis. They were divided into two groups; group 1 comprised of 12 patients who underwent minimally invasive anterior plating and group 2 comprised of 14 patients who underwent an open reduction and internal fixation. The clinical outcomes, radiological results, and complications were compared and analyzed. RESULTS: We found that bone union was achieved in all patients, and the mean union periods were 20.7 +/- 3.34 and 20.3 +/- 3.91 weeks for groups 1 and 2, respectively. In most patients, we found that shoulder and elbow functions were recovered. At 12 months post-operation, we found that the Korean Shoulder Scoring system, the University of California at Los Angeles score and Mayo elbow performance score were 91.4 +/- 7.97, 33.4 +/- 1.15, and 90.8 +/- 2.23 for group 1, and 95.2 +/- 1.53, 33.3 +/- 1.43, and 90.17 +/- 1.85 for group 2. In terms of complications, we found that 2 patients had radial nerve palsy after open reduction and internal fixation, but all cases spontaneously resolved within 6 months. Complications such as infection and loss of fixation were not reported. CONCLUSIONS: Both minimally invasive anterior plating and open reduction with internal fixation produced satisfactory outcomes in the treatment of simple fractures of the humeral shaft.