The management options for complex soft tissue defects about the knee are varied. Limb threatening conditions such as exposure of joint prosthesis or bone requires stable coverage to avoid amputation. A study was conducted to review the author's management protocol and experience with complex defects about the knee. A retrospective analysis from 1986 to 1996 of 35 patients with complex defects about the knee was performed. Treatment options were based on the nature, size location, and depth of the wound. A specific management protocol was applied for each patient. Treatments included local wound care, debridement and skin graft, fasciocutaneous flap, pedicled muscle flap, and free muscle transfer. Postoperatively, patients were evaluated using Knee Society objective and functional scores and other instruments to measure outcome. Successful salvage of the lower extremity was obtained in 34 (97%) patients. Salvage of the total knee prosthesis was obtained in 24 of 29 (83%) patients. Secondary plastic surgery procedures were necessary in eight (23%) patients. Secondary orthopaedic procedures were necessary in five (15%) patients. No patient required an amputation.