Purpose: To investigate the dosimetric effects of bladder filling on organs at risk (OARs) using three-dimensional image-based treatment planning for vaginal cylinder brachytherapy. Methods and Materials: Twelve patients with endometrial or cervical cancer underwent postoperative high-dose rate vaginal cylinder brachytherapy. For three-dimensional planning, patients were simulated by computed tomography with an indwelling catheter in place (empty bladder) and with 180 mL of sterile water instilled into the bladder (full bladder). The bladder, rectum, sigmoid, and small bowel (OARs) were contoured, and a prescription dose was generated for 10 to 35 Gy in 2 to 5 fractions at the surface or at 5 mm depth. For each OAR, the volume dose was defined by use of two different criteria: the minimum dose value in a 2.0-cc volume receiving the highest dose (D 2cc) and the dose received by 50% of the OAR volume (D 50%). International Commission on Radiation Units & Measurements (ICRU) bladder and rectum point doses were calculated for comparison. The cylinder-to-bowel distance was measured using the shortest distance from the cylinder apex to the contoured sigmoid or small bowel. Statistical analyses were performed with paired t tests. Results: Mean bladder and rectum D 2cc values were lower than their respective ICRU doses. However, differences between D 2cc and ICRU doses were small. Empty vs. full bladder did not significantly affect the mean cylinder-to-bowel distance (0.72 vs. 0.92 cm, p = 0.08). In contrast, bladder distention had appreciable effects on bladder and small bowel volume dosimetry. With a full bladder, the mean small bowel D 2cc significantly decreased from 677 to 408 cGy (p = 0.004); the mean bladder D 2cc did not increase significantly (1,179 cGy vs. 1,246 cGy, p = 0.11). Bladder distention decreased the mean D 50% for both the bladder (441 vs. 279 cGy, p = 0.001) and the small bowel (168 vs. 132 cGy, p = 0.001). Rectum and sigmoid volume doses were not affected by bladder filling. Conclusions: In high-dose rate vaginal cylinder brachytherapy, treatment with a distended bladder preferentially reduces high dose to the small bowel around the vaginal cuff without a significant change in dose to the bladder, rectum, or sigmoid. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.