Intensification of radiotherapy treatment for locally advanced head and neck cancer by use of altered fractionation schedules or concomitant chemotherapy has resulted in substantially improved locoregional control and survival. However, these improvements have come at the cost of increased acute, and late, toxic effects. The application of technological advances, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy, is expected to further improve the therapeutic index of radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, by limiting toxicity and possibly by increasing locoregional control. However, the organ-sparing potential of such highly conformal radiotherapy techniques relies heavily on the appropriate selection and accurate delineation of the crucial organs at risk, with the application of rigorous dose constraints during planning. Because xerostomia and dysphagia are the main causes of decreased quality of life after radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, the prevention of these two complications will form the focus of this review.