Between January 1983 and October 1985, 65 patients with malignant airway compromise have had 93 flexible bronchoscopic placements of a nylon afterloading catheter for low dose rate iridium-192 temporary intraluminal brachytherapy. All patients received prior (59 patients) and/or concurrent (13 patients) external beam irradiation to "tolerance" and were not candidates for surgery. Forty of these patients also received neodymium-YAG laser treatment prior to brachytherapy in a planned combined approach to provide immediate symptomatic relief and facilitate catheter placement. A dose of 3,000 cGy is prescribed to 5 mm and 10 mm radii over 20-40 hours in the bronchus and trachea, respectively. Of 59 patients treated with palliative intent, 40 patients (68 percent) have had follow-up bronchoscopy, 18 patients have had clinical follow-up only, and one patient was lost to follow-up. Of 40 patients examined by bronchoscope in follow-up, 24 (60 percent) responded, eight were stable, and eight progressed. Lack of progression after prior external beam radiation for periods of greater than 12 months, six-12 months and less than six months yielded response rates to brachytherapy in 83 percent, 50 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Most patients with clinical follow-up only expired at early intervals with airway palliation from extra-airway disease progression. Four of five patients treated with curative intent are disease-free at a median of 16 months. Eleven patients have experienced fistula and/or hemorrhage, of which seven instances (11 percent of all patients) appear to be treatment-induced. This brachytherapy technique is simple, well tolerated, and convenient for the patient providing airway palliation in the significant majority of patients with acceptable risk.