The literature on the treatment of retained placenta and its effects is reviewed. Manual removal, the oldest and commonest method of treatment, benefits parlour hygiene but may adversely affect the cow. The use of collagenase may allow manual removal without such side effects. Ecbolic drugs are often ineffective, both as prophylaxis and treatment for the condition. They are most effective within one hour of parturition, particularly after a caesarean section in which tocolytic drugs have been used. Endometritis is a very common sequel to retained placenta. Antibiotics and oestrogens have been used to treat, control or prevent the condition, but they are not routinely effective and may have deleterious side effects. Gonadotrophin releasing hormone and/or prostaglandins have been used to reduce the deleterious effect of retained placenta on fertility, but the results obtained have been inconsistent.