Irradiation plays an important role in the treatment of cancers of the head and neck providing a high locoregional tumor control and preservation of organ functions. External beam irradiation (EBI) results in unnecessary radiation exposure of the surrounding normal tissues increasing the incidence of side effects (xerostomy, osteoradionecrosis, and so forth). Brachytherapy (BT) seems to be the best choice for dose escalation over a short treatment period and for minimizing radiation-related normal tissue damage due to the rapid dose falloff around the source. Low-dose-rate BT is being increasingly replaced by pulsed-dose-rate and high-dose-rate BT because the stepping source technology offers the advantage of optimizing dose distribution by varying dwell times. Pulsed-dose and high-dose rates appear to yield local control and complication rates equivalent to those of low-dose rate. BT may be applied alone; but in case of high risk of nodal metastases, it is used together with EBI. This review presents the results and the indications of combined BT and EBI in carcinoma of the base of tongue and other sites of the head and neck region, as well as the role BT plays among other normal tissue protecting modern radiotherapy modalities (intensity modulated radiotherapy, stereotactic radiotherapy) applied in these localizations. (C) 2016 American Brachytherapy Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.