Helical tomotherapy (HT) is a novel radiotherapy technique that utilizes intensity modulated fan beams that deliver highly conformal dose distributions in a helical beam trajectory. The most significant limitation in dose delivery with a constant fan beam thickness (FBT) is the penumbra width of the dose distribution in the craniocaudal direction, which is equivalent to the FBT. We propose to employ a half-blocked fan beam at start and stop location to reduce the penumbra width by half. By opening the jaw slowly during the helical delivery until the desired FBT is achieved it is possible to create a sharper edge in the superior and inferior direction from the target. The technique was studied using a tomotherapy beam model implemented on a commercial treatment planning system (Theraplan Plus V3.0). It was demonstrated that the dose distribution delivered using a 25 mm fan beam can be improved significantly, to reduce the dose to normal structures located superiorly and inferiorly of the target. Dosimetry for this technique is straightforward down to a FBT of 15 mm and implementation should be simple as no changes in couch movement are required compared to a standard HT delivery. We conclude that the use of asymmetric collimated fan beams for the start and stop of the helical tomotherapeutic dose delivery has the potential of significantly improving the dose distribution in helical tomotherapy. ©2004 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.