A number of patients with lung cancer receive either palliative or curative high-dose-rate (HDR) endobronchial brachytherapy. Up to a third of patients treated with endobronchial HDR die from hemoptysis. Rather than accept hemoptysis as an expected potential consequence of HDR, we have calculated the radial dose distribution for an Ir-192 HDR source, rigorously examined the dose and prescription points recommended by the American Brachytherapy Society (ABS), and performed a radiobiological-based analysis. The radial dose rate of a commercially available Ir-192 source was calculated with a Monte Carlo simulation. Based on the linear quadratic model, the estimated palliative, curative and blood vessel rupture radii from the center of an Ir-192 source were obtained for the ABS recommendations and a series of customized HDR prescriptions. The estimated radius at risk for blood vessel perforation for the ABS recommendations ranges from 7 to 9 mm. An optimized prescription may in some situations reduce this radius to 4 mm. The estimated blood perforation radius is generally smaller than the palliative radius. Optimized and individualized endobronchial HDR prescriptions are currently feasible based on our current understanding of tumor and normal tissue radiobiology. Individualized prescriptions could minimize complications such as fatal hemoptysis without sacrificing efficacy. Fiducial stents, HDR catheter centering or spacers and the use of CT imaging to better assess the relationship between the catheter and blood vessels promise to be useful strategies for increasing the therapeutic index of this treatment modality. Prospective trials employing treatment optimization algorithms are needed.