OBJECTIVES To evaluate sequelae and estimate quality of life utilizing a survey instrument in 133 consecutive patients who have undergone definitive radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer. METHODS All patients reported on have been followed for 14 to 60 months (median, 31 months) after radiation therapy and only patients with definitive prostate radiation therapy are included. Of the patients still alive at time of follow-up, 115 were mailed the questionnaire. Data regarding tumor grade and stage as well as treatment were extracted from patient files. RESULTS Of the 91% of patients who returned the questionnaire, 11% used a pad and 13% leaked more than a few drops of urine daily. Of all the respondents, 9% stated that incontinence was a problem, and 31% found urinary leaking significantly worsened after radiation therapy compared with before their diagnosis of prostate cancer. With respect to sexual function, 77% recalled being able to have full or partial erections prior to radiation therapy. At some time after radiation therapy, 22% of previously potent respondents were able to have a full erection and 41% were able to have a partial erection. Twenty-nine percent of all patients who were able to establish an erection prior to radiation therapy reported that impotence was a problem at the time of follow-up. Forty-nine percent of patients had abdominal pain, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping during or after radiation therapy and 31% of all patients still had some intestinal symptoms at the time of follow-up. Eighteen percent of all patients were significantly bothered by one or more of these bowel problems. Overall, 31% of all patients reported a persistent degree of physical discomfort that they believed was secondary to their prostate cancer or the effect of treatment. Eighty-one percent were satisfied with radiation therapy and 97% of the patients said they would have radiation therapy again if faced with the decision. CONCLUSIONS Utilizing a sensitive questionnaire on patients who had definitive radiation therapy for prostate cancer, we found the incidence of patients bothered by incontinence to be surprisingly frequent and higher than previously reported. The frequency of impotence is similar to previous studies. However, when our incontinence and impotence data were compared to Medicare patients who had undergone radical prostatectomy, the frequencies after radiation therapy were significantly lower. Despite the rates of sequelae, the patients were generally satisfied with the decision to undergo radiation therapy and with the medical treatment received.