122 patients affected by clinical stage IIb cervical carcinoma were referred to the Radiation Therapy Department and Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of the University of Florence between 1977 and 1986 for either radiation therapy only (42 patients) or preoperative treatment followed by surgical resection (80 patients). Among the 42 patients receiving radiation therapy only 23 were treated with external beam therapy only (total dose ranging between 50 Gy and 70 Gy at the mid-plane of the pelvis) while 19 received an additional intracavitary boost (total dose ranging between 68 Gy and 98 Gy at Manchester point A). Higher doses of irradiation to point A were correlated with significantly improved survival (65% vs. 18.5%, p = 0.001) and lower incidence of pelvic failure (33% vs 78%). Following preoperative radiation therapy 80 patients underwent radical surgery. Reassessment of the pathologic specimens was possible in all the cases. Disease free survival was not influenced by involvement of parametria, type of surgery or dose to Manchester point A, but rather to nodal status and thickness of the residual tumour in the cervix.