A general review article for the non-radiotherapist. The historical, physical and biological background is briefly reviewed. Mention is made of the effects of fraction size, hyperbaric oxygen, neutron beams and radiation sensitizers. The use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is discussed, as well as the selection of patients for radiotherapy and the treatment of neck nodes. The author suggests a therapeutic approach to the various disease sites and finally reviews some of the literature on radiation caries and jaw necrosis.