PURPOSE To compare intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) and helical tomotherapy (HT) treatment plans for nasopharynx cancer using a simultaneous integrated boost approach. METHODS AND MATERIALS The data from 6 patients who had previously been treated with HT were used. A three-beam IMPT technique was optimized in the Hyperion treatment planning system, simulating a "beam scanning" technique. HT was planned using the tomotherapy treatment planning system. Both techniques were optimized to simultaneously deliver 66 Gy in 30 fractions to planning target volume (PTV1; GTV and enlarged nodes) and 54 Gy to PTV2 subclinical, electively treated nodes. Normal tissue complication probability calculation was performed for the parotids and larynx. RESULTS Very similar PTVs coverage and homogeneity of the target dose distribution for IMPT and HT were found. The conformity index was significantly lower for protons than for photons (1.19 vs. 1.42, respectively). The mean dose to the ipsilateral and contralateral parotid glands decreased by 6.4 Gy and 5.6 Gy, respectively, with IMPT. The volume of mucosa and esophagus receiving > or =20 Gy and > or =30 Gy with IMPT was significantly lower than with HT. The average volume of larynx receiving > or =50 Gy was significantly lower with HT, while for thyroid, it was comparable. The volume receiving > or =30, > or =20, and > or =10 Gy in total body volume decreased with IMPT by 14.5%, 19.4%, and 23.1%, respectively. The normal tissue complication probability for the parotid glands was significantly lower with IMPT for all sets of parameters; however, we also estimated an almost full recovery of the contralateral parotid with HT. The normal tissue complication probability for the larynx was not significantly different between the two irradiation techniques. CONCLUSION Excellent target coverage, homogeneity within the PTVs, and sparing of the organs at risk were reached with both modalities. IMPT allows for better sparing of most organs at risk at medium-to-low doses.