The present animal tumour study was carried out to determine the effectiveness of low temperature hyperthermia combined with low dose rate radiation based on the cell culture studies of our laboratory and others that demonstrated a significant radiosensitization obtained by low temperature hyperthermia and low dose rate radiation. Well-oxygenated murine fibrosarcoma Meth-A tumours growing in Balb/c mice were treated with heat (41 degrees C tumour temperature) by immersion of the tumour-bearing leg in a waterbath concurrently with low dose rate radiation. Radiation was delivered using 192Ir interstitial implantation at absolute dose rates of 0.416-0.542 Gy/h. The effect of heat alone on tumour growth and normal tissue was minimal. Tumour growth delay following 30 Gy radiation was 4.9 days. Significant delay in tumour growth was observed with the addition of low temperature hyperthermia delivered concurrently. Enhancement in radiation response was seen with increasing duration of heat treatment; tumour growth delays were 9.5 days following 4 h heat (41 degrees C) treatment and 16 days following 6 h treatment. Three sessions of fractionated hyperthermia 4 h/day during the course of low dose-rate radiation significantly delayed tumour growth to 18.6 days. The results indicate that fractionated heat treatment in conjunction with low dose rate radiation has potential for improving tumour response without adversely affecting normal tissue reaction. This in vivo study represents an extension of the cell culture data and provides further radiobiological basis for the combined use of low temperature hyperthermia and low dose rate radiation.