PURPOSE: Preoperative and immediate postoperative irradiation of traumatic acetabular fractures (TAF), although known to reduce heterotopic ossification (HO), can cause significant organizational and logistic difficulties. We sought to determine an acceptable time interval between surgery and radiation without compromising control, as well as to update our large experience and to further validate our treatment philosophy. METHODS AND MATERIALS: Beginning in June 1995, we began a prospective study, irradiating 152 patients on postoperative days 1, 2, or 3. There were also 17 patients delayed further secondary to medical difficulties. RESULTS: All patients treated since June 1995 received 700 cGy/1 fx. Fifty-eight patients received radiation within 24 hours of surgery, 41 within 2 days, 53 within 3 days, 13 within 4 days, and 4 were delayed further. Delaying irradiation for up to 4 days postoperatively caused no statistical increase in HO (p = 0.625). Of 263 patients in our retrospective cohort, HO occurred in 5.3% of patients who received irradiation versus 60% of patients who did not. CONCLUSION: In our prospective study, we noted no perceptible increase in HO with up to a 3-day interval between surgery and radiotherapy. This allows a more structured treatment schedule and allows the patient more time to heal and recover. Updated results from our overall series continue to demonstrate that adjuvant radiation decreases the incidence and severity of HO after TAF.