Abstract The effect of radiation on a cell population is described by a two-dimensional nonlinear system of differential equations. If the radiation rate is not too high, the system is known to have an asymptotically stable equilibrium. First, for the monitoring of this effect, the concept of observability is applied. For the case when the total number of cells is observed, without distinction between healthy and affected cells, a so-called observer system is constructed, which, at least near the equilibrium state, makes it possible to recover the dynamics of both the healthy and the affected cells, from the observation of the total number of cells without distinction. Results of simulations with illustrative data are also presented. If we want to control the system into a required new equilibrium state, and maintain this new equilibrium by a constant control, a technique of theory of optimal control can be applied to construct a feedback control system.