Bone loss secondary to primary or metastatic lesions of the proximal humerus remains a challenging surgical problem. Options include preservation of the joint with stabilisation using internal fixation or resection of the tumour with prosthetic replacement. Resection of the proximal humerus often includes the greater tuberosity and adjacent diaphysis, which may result in poor function secondary to loss of the rotator cuff and/or deltoid function. Preservation of the joint with internal fixation may reduce the time in hospital and perioperative morbidity compared with joint replacement, and result in a better functional outcome. We included 32 patients with pathological fractures of the proximal humerus in this study. Functional and radiological assessments were performed. At a mean follow-up of 17.6 months (8 to 61) there was no radiological evidence of failure of fixation. The mean revised musculoskeletal Tumour Society functional score was 94.6% (86% to 99%). There was recurrent tumour requiring further surgery in four patients (12.5%). Of the 22 patients who were employed prior to presentation all returned to work without restrictions. The use of a locking plate combined with augmentation with cement extends the indications for salvage of the proximal humerus with good function in patients with pathological and impending pathological fractures. ©2010 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery.