We report our experience with radiotherapy for three patients with cervical carcinoma in whom surgery had been downgraded to the performance of exploratory laparotomy only, because of extensive primary tumor or nodal invasion to the surrounding organs and vessels. Tumor invasion to the bladder, side wall invasion or unresectable nodal disease at the time of exploration prevented definitive surgery in our case series. After laparotomy, we carried out radiation therapy consisting of external irradiation to the pelvis and intracavitary irradiation with high dose rate 60Co or low dose rate 137Cs sources. Local and regional control was obtained in all three patients, and there was no locoregional recurrence during > 5 years of follow-up. One patient died of paraaortic lymph node metastases, but she had no pelvic recurrence. Several authors have reported an increased risk of small bowel obstruction in patients who undergo laparotomy before radiotherapy. None of our patients developed small bowel obstruction, although one had anal bleeding which was cured by conservative therapy. Radiotherapy was effective for locoregional control in all three patients with unresectable cervical carcinoma.