Vertical C-2 body fractures are presented in 15 patients with clinical and imaging correlations that suggest the existence of a variety of mechanisms of injury. In these patients, clinical and imaging correlations were derived by: 1) defining the point of impact by clinical examination; 2) defining the point of impact by soft-tissue changes on cranial magnetic resonance (MR) imaging or computerized tomography (CT); 3) obtaining an accurate history of the mechanism of injury; and 4) spine imaging (x-ray studies, CT, and MR imaging) of the C-2 body fracture and surrounding bone and soft tissue. The cases presented involve the region located between the dens and the pars interarticularis of the axis. Although these fractures are rarely reported, they are not uncommon. An elucidation of their pathological anatomy helps to further the understanding of the mechanistic etiology of upper cervical spine trauma. A spectrum of mechanisms of injury causing upper cervical spine fractures was observed. The type of injury incurred is determined predominantly by the force vector applied during impact and the intrinsic strength and anatomy of C-2 and its surrounding spinal elements. From this clinical experience, two types of vertical C-2 body fractures are defined and presented: coronally oriented (Type 1) and sagittally oriented (Type 2). A third type of C-2 body fracture, the horizontal rostral C-2 fracture (Type 3), is added for completeness; this Type 3 fracture is the previously described Type III odontoid process fracture described by Anderson and D'Alonzo.