From 1965 to 1980, 35 patients were treated by radiation for palliation of symptoms related to metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The male:female ratio was 1.9:1. Eighty-six percent (30/35) of the patients were over 40 years of age at initial presentation. Sixty-three percent (22/35) of the patients showed symptoms of metastatic disease within three years of diagnosis of the primary malignancy. Sixty sites were irradiated in the 35 patients: 36 sites of metastatic bone pain, 14 obstructing and/or palpable masses, and ten sites treated for symptoms due to central nervous system (CNS) metastases. Efficacy of treatment was assessed at serial follow-up visits beginning one month after completion of radiotherapy. Bone pain responded at 77% of the treated sites. Mass effect responded in 64%. Disappointing results were obtained with CNS metastases. There was only a 30% response of brain and spinal cord lesions within the dose range that these patients were treated. No correlation between TDF equivalent dose of radiation administered and frequency of palliative response was found. In those sites where a response of bone pain to radiation was observed, 86% of the responses lasted the remainder of the patient's life. No correlation was found between TDF equivalent dose of radiation administered and duration of response. Radiation may be a useful palliative tool for bone pain and mass effect from metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Inordinately high doses need not be used to achieve the desired effect.