Twenty six children with severely displaced supracondylar fractures were treated with closed reduction and vertical osseous traction with an olecranon screw. Four children required a second operation in the form of open reduction and K-wire fixation for failure to achieve a satisfactory reduction. After a mean follow up of 48 weeks, 20 children (91 per cent) had an excellent result with no significant loss of movement. Two children (9 per cent) had minimal cubitus varus (av. 8 degrees) which did not require a corrective osteotomy. All four children who had a second operation had an excellent result. The average hospitalisation time was 19 days. The method of olecranon screw traction is technically easy to perform and carries few risks of complications.