Purpose: To evaluate the results and complications of treatment with high dose rate (HDR) compared to low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy in cervical carcinoma. Methods: Three hundred and seventy patients who were treated with external irradiation and intracavitary brachytherapy and followed for more than 2 years between 1978 and 1998 have been recently updated. The low dose rate group consisted of 77 cases treated between 1978 and 1982 and HDR group consisted of 293 cases treated between 1982 and 1998. All patients first received external irradiation with 60Co or 9-18 MV photons and a median dose of 54 Gy was given in 6 weeks. In the LDR group, intracavitary treatment was given with Manchester applicators loaded with radium (30 mg) in an intrauterine tube and 20 mg in vaginal ovoids. The dose delivered to point A was on average 32 Gy in one application. In the HDR group, a total dose of 24 Gy was given to point A in three insertions 1 week apart. The dose rate was 0.62 Gy at point A. Results: The 5-year pelvic control rate was found to be 73% in the HDR group, compared with 86% in the radium group for stage I cases. In stage IIB and IIIB cases, the rates were 68% and 45% for HDR and 65% and 53% for LDR, respectively. In all stages, there was no statistical difference in pelvic control and survival rates between the two groups. Overall incidence of late complications was found as 31.1% and 31.9% in HDR and LDR groups, respectively. The grade 2-4 late complication rate was 14% in the HDR group compared to 19% in the LDR group (P>0.05). Conclusion: HDR brachytherapy in the management of the cervix appears to be a safe and efficacious approach. Pelvic control, survival and complications rates are quite similar when compared with LDR. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.