Thoracolumbar burst fractures are a major cause of disability; however, there are few studies on the functional outcome of patients with this injury. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the functional outcome of patients with thoracolumbar burst fractures using a generic and a condition-specific health status survey. The SF-36 survey (generic) and the Roland scale (condition-specific) were administered to 24 patients who had a minimum of 2 years follow-up after a thoracolumbar burst fracture without neurologic deficit. The average SF-36 score was 65% (compared to 45% for dialysis and 66% for diabetes) and the Roland score was 65% (compared to 58% for low back pain). Of the patients, 33% were able to return to their previous employment, but only 8% were able to return to their pre-injury level of sports. There was a strong correlation (r = 0.71) between the Roland scale and the SF-36 pain scale. There were poor correlations between the Roland scale and residual kyphosis (r = 0.003), and between the SF-36 pain scale and residual kyphosis (r = 0.10). There was no significant difference in the functional outcome of those patients treated operatively versus nonoperatively.