High-energy protons have physical properties that virtually always will result in geometrically better dose distributions than can be achieved using photons or electrons. The clinical gains in terms of the probability of higher tumour control and/or the reduced probability of normal tissue complications are, however, not completely known. Comparative model dose planning studies using real patients offer the possibility of estimating the potential gains using a new technique. Several recently completed model studies, including clinically relevant endpoints, indicate that protons may have advantages, even when compared with the conventional treatment that is likely to be introduced at the most advanced hospitals world-wide within the next decade. These advantages can be seen not only in well-demarcated targets close to risk organs, but also when irradiating extended irregular tissue volumes at risk of containing tumour cells.