PURPOSE: To evaluate the palliative effect of endobronchial brachytherapy (EBB) for patients with lung cancer that previously received external beam radiotherapy (EBRT). MATERIALS AND METHODS: From July 1992 to May 2003, 29 patients with a recurrent or persistent lung cancer were treated with palliative EBB at our institute. EBB consisted of three fractions (once a week) of a dose of 5 Gy using the high dose-rate remote afterloader. Symptomatic improvement was assessed subjectively, and patients were divided into two groups according to whether symptoms were improved or not. Factors such as age, performance status, duration from EBRT to EBB and the location of the tumor were compared between the improved and unimproved groups of patients. RESULTS: Overall symptomatic improvement was found in 27 out of 52 symptoms (52%). Improvement as to the type of symptoms was seen in 41%, 50%, 82% and 33% of patients with cough, dyspnea, hemoptysis, and obstructive pneumonia respectively. The rate of improvement of hemoptysis was more than that of cough (p<0.05). The median time to symptom relapse was 5 months. The improved patient group (n=17, 59%) had a better performance status and longer duration from EBRT to EBB than the unimproved patient group (p<0.05). Lesions located in the distal trachea and/or main bronchus were found more frequently in the improved group of patients than in the unimproved group of patients, but the difference was not statistically significant (p =0.06). Fatal complications developed in two patients (7%), which were a hemoptysis and bronchopleural fistula respectively. CONCLUSION: Symptom improvement was found in 60% of patients after EBB and improvement was maintained for 5 months. Palliative EBB, even when EBRT was given previously, can be effective for a patient that has an endobronchial symptom, such as hemoptysis, and for a patient with good performance and a long duration from previous EBRT to EBB.