Fractures of the 1st cervical vertebra (C1) represent 7% of all acute cervical spine fractures. Isolated atlas fractures are most commonly bilateral or multiple fractures through the ring of C1. Frequently (44% of cases), the atlas will be fractured in combination with the axis. Treatment of isolated C1 fractures should be governed by the rules of Spence. The treatment of combination C1-C2 fractures is dictated by the type and severity of the C2 fracture. Experience with 57 cases of acute atlas fractures is reviewed. Nonoperative external immobilization was used in 53 patients (with 1 failure), and early surgical wiring and fusion were performed in 4 patients. The long term outcome from an atlas fracture is good (median follow-up, 40 months).