The prone position can be used for the planning of adjuvant radiotherapy after conservative breast surgery in order to deliver less irradiation to lung and cardiac tissue. In the present study, we compared the results of three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy planning for five patients irradiated in the supine and prone position. Tumor stage was T1N0M0 in four patients and T1N1M0 in one. All patients had been previously submitted to conservative breast surgery. Breast size was large in three patients and moderate in the other two. Irradiation in the prone position was performed using an immobilization foam pad with a hole cut into it to accommodate the breast so that it would hang down away from the chest wall. Dose-volume histograms showed that mean irradiation doses reaching the ipsilateral lung were 8.3 +/- 3.6 Gy with the patient in the supine position and 1.4 +/- 1.0 Gy with the patient in the prone position (P = 0.043). The values for the contralateral lung were 1.3 +/- 0.7 and 0.3 +/- 0.1 Gy (P = 0.043) and the values for cardiac tissue were 4.6 +/- 1.6 and 3.0 +/- 1.7 Gy (P = 0.079), respectively. Thus, the dose-volume histograms demonstrated that lung tissue irradiation was significantly lower with the patient in the prone position than in the supine position. Large-breasted women appeared to benefit most from irradiation in the prone position. Prone position breast irradiation appears to be a simple and effective alternative to the conventional supine position for patients with large breasts, since they are subjected to lower pulmonary doses which may cause less pulmonary side effects in the future.