An investigation was undertaken into possible dose conformity advantages and technical limitations of utilizing radially asymmetric internally applied radiation sources for intensity-modulated brachytherapy (IMBT). A feasible form of a source for IMBT would be a linear source with a high-intensity angular region, with some fractional transmission through the remainder of the source, which inhibits the resolution achievable in intensity modulation. Indexed rotation of the source about its axis would provide radial intensity modulation, which could compensate for variations in the spatial relationship between the source position and location of the target edge. Two treatment situations were simulated--one two-dimensional and one three-dimensional--both utilizing a single source (single catheter). The optimal intensity distribution of the source was determined by simulated annealing optimization using a conformality-based objective. The parameters in the optimization included the angular size of the source high-intensity region, and the fractional transmission through the low-intensity part of the source. Results indicate that limitations in source design suggest an optimal high-intensity resolution of approximately pi/4 to pi/8. The advantages of IMBT are rapidly reduced when fractional transmission through the low-intensity side of the source is increased.