Purpose: The aim of the present study was to compare the functional effect of conservative and surgical treatment in posttraumatic syringomyelia. Method: The files of 10 male patients treated for posttraumatic syringomyelia were retrospectively reviewed from 1986 to 1996. Results: The spinal lesion was complete in five patients and incomplete in five. All patients underwent rehabilitation, five of them following surgery. The operative procedures included drainage by syringosubarachnoid shunting (four patients) and decompressive laminectomy (one patient). Rehabilitation alone improved the functional status in all five patients so treated. After surgery, function deteriorated in four of the five operated patients, and rehabilitation failed to restore the preoperative functional status in any of them. Conclusion : In view of the results it is suggested that patients with post-traumatic syringomyelia undergo rehabilitation with very close clinical and magnetic resonance imaging follow-up.