The rigidity and stresses in external fracture fixation devices were studied by means of the finite element method. Different geometries and material parameters were simulated using a beam element model. Axial, bending and torsional loads were applied through the bone ends and the displacement obtained at the fracture sites was used to calculate the fracture fixation stiffness. The key parameters which increased fixation rigidity were identified. High pin stresses were predicted under certain application conditions. Possible clinical implications for the use of such apparatus are discussed in the light of bone fracture healing. The present results are expected to have a significant impact on future design modifications and clinical applications of this popular instrument in orthopedic surgery and traumatology.