PURPOSE A technique that eliminates the use of a mechanical "breast-bridge" for positioning tangential fields for treatment of the intact breast or chest wall has been developed. METHODS AND MATERIALS Treatment set-up parameters are determined using measuring capabilities (gantry angles and source-skin distances) available on a standard simulator unit. A programmable scientific calculator is used to determine field geometry from polar coordinates for various points on the patient's skin. The calculator program determines the field size, a depth and lateral shift from a skin reference point to the isocenter for the tangential fields, and the gantry angles. The program provides additional information which facilitates the simulation process: First, the coordinates of the isocenter for the tangential fields are expressed relative to couch coordinates for an initial arbitrary isocenter so that the "auto go to" capability available on some simulators can be used. Second, the coordinates of the medial and lateral entry points can be edited when the first set of tangents are not accepted. This part of the program allows quick and efficient adjustment of the fields to obtain adequate treatment volume coverage and a minimum of irradiated lung or heart. RESULTS Simulation of more than 300 patients has shown the technique to be a practical and efficient method for positioning tangential fields for breast or chest wall irradiation. CONCLUSION The technique described here takes full advantage of the capabilities of the new generation of computer controlled simulators, and offers an alternative to previous methods employing a mechanical "breast-bridge."