This is an analysis of 136 patients treated with radiation therapy alone (104) or in conjunction with planned neck dissection (32) for squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsillar area between October 1964 and August 1983. All patients have a 2-year follow-up and 94 (69%) have a minimum 5-year follow-up. Patients were excluded from analysis of disease control at the primary site and/or neck if they died within 2 years of treatment with that site continuously disease-free. All patients were treated with continuous-course irradiation; those treated with the planned split-course technique are not included. Once-a-day fractionation was used in 105 patients and twice-a-day fractionation in 31 patients. External beam alone was used in 93 patients, and external beam followed by a radium needle implant boost to the primary site was employed in 43 patients. Rates of initial local control with irradiation and ultimate local control after surgical salvage of irradiation failures are as follows: T1, 10/12 (83%) and 12/12; T2, 36/46 (78%) and 41/46 (89%); T3, 28/39 (72%) and 28/39 (72%); T4, 5/16 (31%) and 5/16 (31%). Local control data are also presented as a function of tumor site within the tonsillar area, total dose, dose per fraction, and external beam alone versus external beam plus radium needle implant. The 5-year determinate survival rates by modified AJCC stage are as follows: I, 3/3; II, 13/14; III, 14/17; IVA, 6/14; and IVB, 4/19.