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Aims: The aim of this study was to report the outcome following primary fixation or a staged protocol for type C fractures of the tibial plafond. Patients and methods: We studied all patients who sustained a complex intra-articular fracture (AO type C) of the distal tibia over an 11-year period. The primary short-term outcome was infection. The primary long-term outcome was the Foot and Ankle Outcome Score (FAOS). Results: There were 102 type C pilon fractures in 99 patients, whose mean age was 42 years (16 to 86) and 77 were male. Primary open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) was performed in 73 patients (71.6%), whilst 20 (19.6%) underwent primary external fixation with delayed ORIF. There were 18 wound infections (17.6%). A total of nine (8.8%) were deep and nine were superficial. Infection was associated with comorbidities (p = 0.008), open fractures (p = 0.008) and primary external fixation with delayed ORIF (p = 0.023). At a mean of six years (0.3 to 13; n = 53) after the injury, the mean FAOS was 76.2 (0 to 100) and 72% of patients were satisfied. Conclusion: This is currently the largest series reporting the outcome following fixation of complex AO type C tibial pilon fractures. Despite the severity of these injuries, we have demonstrated that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved in the appropriate patients using primary ORIF. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2016;98-B:1106-11.