As economically attractive sources of natural uranium are gradually depleted attention will turn to recycling plutonium or to the use of thorium fuels. The radiological implications of these fuel cycles in terms of fuel handling and radioactive waste disposal are investigated in relation to a conventional /sup 235/U enriched oxide fuel. It is suggested that a comparative study of this nature may be an important aspect of the overall optimization of future fuel cycle strategies. It is shown that the use of thorium based fuels has distinct advantages in terms of neutron dose rates from irradiated fuels and long term proportional to decay heating commitment compared with conventional uranium/plutonium fuels. However, this introduces a ..gamma.. dose rate problem in the fabrication and handling of unirradiated /sup 233/U fuels. For both plutonium and thorium fuels these radiological problems increase during storage of the fuel prior to reactor irradiation. The novel health physics problems which arise in the handling and processing of thorium fuels are reviewed in an appendix.