An audit of the Leeds regional bone tumour registry found that primary bone tumours of the thoracic skeleton constituted 90 of the 2004 cases (4.5%). Thirty seven per cent occurred in the ribs, 32% in the scapulae, 11% in the thoracic vertebrae, 11% in the sternum, and 9% in the clavicles. Malignant tumours were more common than benign (54 v 36) and occurred in an older population (mean ages 47 and 31 years). The scapula was the most common site for malignant lesions and the ribs the most common site for benign tumours. Chondrosarcoma was the commonest tumour in older patients, fibrous dysplasia and plasmacytoma in the middle age group, and eosinophilic granuloma in children. Presenting symptoms were a poor guide to whether the lesion was malignant or not. This and the small proportion of correct preoperative diagnoses indicate the need for early biopsy. Bone tumour registries provide a valuable source of cumulative information about uncommon tumours and facilitate accurate diagnosis, teaching, and research.