The radical changes in prosthetic design made in the mid 1980s transformed the historically poorly performing reverse ball-and-socket total shoulder prosthesis into a highly successful salvage implant for pseudoparalytic, severely rotator cuff-deficient shoulders. Moving the center of rotation more medial and distal as well as implanting a large glenoid hemisphere that articulates with a humeral cup in 155 degrees of valgus are the biomechanical keys to sometimes spectacular short- to mid-term results. Use of the reverse total shoulder arthroplasty device allows salvage of injuries that previously were beyond surgical treatment. However, this technique has a complication rate approximately three times that of conventional arthroplasty. Radiographic and clinical results appear to deteriorate over time. Proper patient selection and attention to technical details are needed to reduce the currently high complication rate.