Introduction The history of surgical spina bifida repair has seen many successes and failures. Many early surgeons attempted treatment of open spina bifida defects before a clear understanding of the disease process or pathology had been discovered. Conclusions The attempts, while often fruitless, served to better our understanding of the disease and represent stepping-stones to the treatment we successfully use today. The present paper reviews the history of the surgical treatment of myelomeningoceles. ©Springer-Verlag 2012.