This study is based on the context that many patients with advanced oropharyngeal carcinoma are being treated with primary chemoradiation. The aims of this study are to identify differences in quality of life (QOL) between patients with advanced oropharyngeal cancer following traditional chemoradiation versus chemotherapy with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (CIMRT). This research is designed on a cohort study from an academic tertiary referral center. Fifty patients were identiWed from an institutional database of patients who had undergone primary chemotherapy and radiation (traditional or IMRT) for advanced oropharyngeal carcinoma. Patients responded via mail using the University of Washington quality of life instrument version 4. Statistical analysis of data was performed using Chi-square and Wilcoxon tests. The results comprise the responses of 17 CRT (57%) and 14 CIMRT (70%) patients. The patients completed the survey between 9 and 44 months following end of treatment. When adjusted for tumor stage and time since treatment, CIMRT patients reported improved appearance (p = 0.05), chewing (p = 0.02), and mood (p = 0.01). There was a trend toward significance for improved activity (p = 0.07), recreation (p = 0.07), and anxiety (p = 0.08). There were no differences between the two groups for saliva, taste, shoulder function, speech, and swallowing. But there was a trend for significance for improved overall QOL in patients who had undergone CIMRT (p = 0.06). In conclusion, CIMRT results in improved QOL for some domains but surprisingly not for swallowing or saliva. Patients undergoing CIMRT also report slightly better QOL overall when compared to patients receiving more traditional forms of radiation therapy. © The Author(s) 2009.