Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with a dynamic multileaf collimator (DMLC) requires synchronization of DMLC leaf motion with dose delivery. A delay in DMLC communication is known to cause leaf lag and lead to dosimetric errors. The errors may be exacerbated by gated operation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of leaf lag on the accuracy of doses delivered in gated IMRT. We first determined the effective leaf delay time by measuring the dose in a stationary phantom delivered by wedge-shaped fields. The wedge fields were generated by a DMLC at various dose rates. The so determined delay varied from 88.3 to 90.5 ms. The dosimetric effect of this delay on gated IMRT was studied by delivering wedge-shaped and clinical IMRT fields to moving and stationary phantoms at dose rates ranging from 100 to 600 MU/min, with and without gating. Respiratory motion was simulated by a linear sinusoidal motion of the phantom. An ionization chamber and films were employed for absolute dose and 2-D dose distribution measurements. Discrepancies between gated and nongated delivery to the stationary phantom were observed in both absolute dose and 2-D dose distribution measurements. These discrepancies increased monotonically with dose rate and frequency of beam interruptions, and could reach 3.7% of the total dose delivered to a 0.6 cm3ion chamber. Isodose lines could be shifted by as much as 3 mm. The results are consistent with the explanation that beam hold-offs in gated delivery allowed the lagging leaves to catch up with the delivered monitor units each time that the beam was interrupted. Low dose rates, slow leaf speeds and low frequencies of beam interruptions reduce the effect of this delay-and-catch-up cycle. For gated IMRT it is therefore important to find a good balance between the conflicting requirements of rapid dose delivery and delivery accuracy. © 2003 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.