Abstract A simple analysis is developed to evaluate the likely effectiveness of treatment of micrometastases by antibody-targeted 131I. Account is taken of the low levels of tumour uptake of antibody-conjugated 131I presently achievable and of the “energy wastage” in targeting microscopic tumours with a radionuclide whose disintegration energy is widely dissipated. The analysis shows that only modest doses can be delivered to micrometastases when total body dose is restricted to levels which allow recovery of bone marrow. Much higher doses could be delivered to micrometastases when bone marrow rescue is used. A rationale is presented for targeted systemic radiotherapy used in combination with external beam total body irradiation (TBI) and bone marrow rescue. This has some practical advantages. The effect of the targeted component is to impose a biological non-uniformity on the total body dose distribution with regions of high tumour cell density receiving higher doses. Where targeting results in high doses to particular normal organs (e.g. liver, kidney) the total dose to these organs could be kept within tolerable limits by appropriate shielding of the external beam radiation component of the treatment. Greater levels of tumour cell kill should be achievable by the combination regime without any increase in normal tissue damage over that inflicted by conventional TBI. The predicted superiority of the combination regime is especially marked for tumours just below the threshold for detectability (e.g. ~ 1 mm-1 cm diameter). This approach has the advantage that targeted radiotherapy provides only a proportion of the total body dose, most of which is given by a familiar technique. The proportion of dose given by the targeted component could be increased as experience is gained. The predicted superiority of the combination strategy should be experimentally testable using laboratory animals. Clinical applications should be cautiously approached, with due regard to the limitations of the theoretical analysis.