Background: Fracture of the distal radius is a common clinical problem. A key method of surgical fixation is percutaneous pinning, involving the insertion of wires through the skin to stabilise the fracture. Objectives: To evaluate the evidence from randomised controlled trials for the use of percutaneous pinning for fractures of the distal radius in adults. Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register (September 2006), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE and other databases, conference proceedings and reference lists of articles. No language restrictions were applied. Selection criteria: Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled clinical trials involving adults with a fracture of the distal radius, which compared percutaneous pinning with conservative treatment, or different aspects of percutaneous pinning. Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently assessed and extracted data from the included trials. Some pooling of data was undertaken for one comparison. Main results: Thirteen trials, involving 940 generally older adults with dorsally displaced and potentially or evidently unstable distal radial fractures, were included. Methodological weaknesses among these trials included lack of allocation concealment and inadequate outcome assessment. Factors affecting the applicability of trial evidence included inconsistent fracture classification, variations in outcome assessment and incomplete reporting. Six heterogeneous trials compared percutaneous pinning with plaster cast immobilisation. Across-fracture pinning, used in five trials, was associatedwith improved anatomical outcome and generallyminor complications.Therewas some indication of similar or improved function in the pinning group. One quasi-randomised trial found an excess of complications after Kapandji pinning. Three trials compared different methods of pinning. Two trials found a higher incidence of complications after Kapandji fixation compared with two methods of across-fracture fixation. The third trial provided inadequate evidence for modified Kapandji fixation versus Willenegger fixation. Two small trials comparing biodegradable pins versusmetal pins found a significant excess of complications associatedwith biodegradable material.