Diaphragmatic rupture following trauma is often an associated and missed injury. The diagnosis is difficult, so is usually made intraoperatively. Twenty-one patients with traumatic rupture of the diaphragm (TRD) who presented between 1995 and 1998 were retrospectively analysed: 12 had penetrating injuries and nine had blunt injuries. Right-sided defects exceeded left (12 vs 9). Only seven patients had signs and symptoms directly referrable to rupture of the diaphragm. All patients were operated on through a midline laparotomy. Diaphragmatic hernia was seen in six patients (28.5%); 20 (95%) patients had concomitant injuries. The liver was the most commonly injured organ (10 patients). The aim of this study was to report our experiences with TRD and review the literature. We conclude that correct preoperative diagnosis of TRD needs a high index of suspicion. It can be diagnosed intraoperatively by explorative laparotomy. Most ruptures can be repaired by the abdominal approach.