We report positive and negative factors associated with the most commonly-used methods of reconstruction after pathological fracture of the proximal femur. The study was based on 142 patients treated surgically for 146 metastatic lesions between 1996 and 2003. The local rate of failure was 10.3% (15 of 146). Of 37 operations involving osteosynthetic devices, six failed (16.2%) compared with nine (8.3%) in 109 operations involving endoprostheses. Of nine cases of prosthetic failure, four were due to periprosthetic fractures and three to recurrent dislocation. In the osteosynthesis group, three (13.6%) of 22 reconstruction nails failed. The two-year risk of re-operation after any type of osteosynthesis was 0.35 compared with 0.18 after any type of endoprosthetic reconstruction (p = 0.07). Endoprosthetic reconstructions are preferable to the use of reconstruction nails and other osteosynthetic devices for the treatment of metastatic lesions in the proximal third of the femur.