Hypoxic clonogenic cells are an important contributory factor in tumour radioresistance. The objective of the present study was to evaluate whether hyperbaric oxygen enhances tumour radiosensitivity, using a conventionally fractionated irradiation schedule, and whether the radiosensitizing potential is different from carbogen. Experiments were performed using the rhabdomyosarcoma R1H model transplanted subcutaneously in the flank of WAG/Rij rats. A total of 30 X-ray fractions of 2 Gy were given either in air, normobaric carbogen or high pressure oxygen (HPO) (240 kPa, 2.37 atm) without anaesthesia. The time taken to achieve complete remission was 38.7 +/- 3.6 days, 36.7 +/- 2.7 days and 32.4 +/- 4.1 days for air, normobaric carbogen and HBO, respectively. The differences between air and HBO (p = 0.002) and carbogen and HBO (p = 0.015) were significant. Use of carbogen and HBO produced the same local control probability at 150 days and this was significantly higher than local control under ambient conditions (p < 0.0001). It was concluded that the time to achieve complete remission of the rat rhabdomyosarcoma R1H can be shortened by HBO. Furthermore, both HBO and carbogen give higher local control probabilities than treatment under ambient conditions when used with a conventionally fractionated radiation schedule.