Seven different radiobiological dose-response models have been compared with regard to their ability to describe experimental data. The first four models, namely the critical volume, the relative seriality, the inverse tumor and the critical element models are mainly based on cell survival biology. The other three models: the Lyman (Gaussian distribution), the parallel architecture and the Weibull distribution models are semi-empirical and rather based on statistical distributions. The maximum likelihood estimation was used to fit the models to experimental data and the χ2
-distribution, AIC criterion and F-test were applied to compare the goodness-of-fit of the models. The comparison was performed using experimental data for rat spinal cord injury. Both the shape of the dose-response curve and the ability of handling the volume dependence were separately compared for each model. All the models were found to be acceptable in describing the present experimental dataset (p > 0.05). For the white matter necrosis dataset, the Weibull and Lyman models were clearly superior to the other models, whereas for the vascular damage case, the Relative Seriality model seems to have the best performance although the Critical volume, Inverse tumor, Critical element and Parallel architecture models gave similar results. Although the differences between many of the investigated models are rather small, they still may be of importance in indicating the advantages and limitations of each particular model. It appears that most of the models have favorable properties for describing dose-response data, which indicates that they may be suitable to be used in biologically optimized intensity modulated radiation therapy planning, provided a proper estimation of their radiobiological parameters had been performed for every tissue and clinical endpoint.