Many reasons might be assigned for why the subject of this paper has hardly figured in historical discussion of the relations between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ medicine. Not least of these is that little is known of the history of the practice of bone-setting, either ancient or modern. Indeed, the very nature of bone-setting is unclear, since at different times and places it was an area evidently more concerned with manipulative therapeutic techniques than with the mending of fractures. 1 The fact, too, that bone-setting was a practical craft and not a theory-laden medical system has obviously not encouraged its historical pursuit; nor has the fact that bone-setting was never an organised medical, or alternative medical, cult (unlike its descendants, osteopathy and chiropractic). Although the absence of similar epistemologica! and sociological engagements has not deterred the historical pursuit of the bone-setter’s near neighbour in popular culture, the untrained midwife, bone-setting clearly lacks the compensating feature of the medical politics of gender.