The response to definitive radiation therapy of localized carcinoma of the prostate by 125iodine implantation or external beam radiotherapy was monitored by examining specimens from biopsies performed after treatment. We analyzed 126 biopsy specimens obtained 18 months or more after treatment: 71 were obtained from 109 patients treated by 125iodine and 55 from 197 patients treated by external beam radiotherapy. Thereafter, the disease status of these patients was examined at minimum 3-year intervals. No significant statistical difference was found between the negative specimen rates of the 2 treatment modalities: 46 of 71 (65 per cent) after 125iodine implantation and 39 of 55 (71 per cent) after external beam radiotherapy were negative. To analyze the predictive value of biopsy results 103 patients whose prostatic examination results were normal at biopsy or who showed regression of tumor size and tumor induration after radiation were evaluated. The biopsy results from all patients were combined for analysis. Of 77 patients with negative biopsy specimens 16 (21 per cent) have had recurrent disease, compared to 17 of 26 (65 per cent) with positive biopsy specimens (p equals 0.00005). Of the 77 patients with negative biopsy specimens 7 (9 per cent) had local disease recurrence, compared to 12 of 26 (46 per cent) with a positive biopsy specimen (p equals 0.0001). The value of a positive specimen to predict failure remained significant with patients stratified by pre-treatment clinical stage and grade of the disease. Our results show that patients with positive specimens from the prostate who had been judged clinically by rectal examination to have responded to radiation therapy had a significantly increased incidence of local and distant failure compared to patients who had negative biopsy specimens.