Purpose: Electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) are high resolution systems that produce electronic dose maps with minimal time required for equipment setup, and therefore potentially present a time-saving alternative for intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) pretreatment verification. A modified commercial EPID was investigated operated with an opaque sheet blocking the optical signal produced in the phosphor layer as a precursor to a switched mode dual dosimetry-imaging EPID system. The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using this system for direct dose to water dosimetry for pretreatment IMRT verification. Methods: A Varian amorphous silicon EPID was modified by placing an opaque sheet between the Gd 2S2O:Tb phosphor layer and the photodiode array to block the optical photons. The EPID was thus converted to a direct-detecting system (dEPID), in which the high energy radiation deposits energy directly in the photodiode array. The copper build-up was replaced with dmax solid water. Sixty-one IMRT beams of varying complexity were delivered to the EPID, to EDR2 dosimetric film and to a 2D ion chamber array (MapCheck). EPID data was compared to film and MapCheck data using gamma analysis with 3%, 3mm pass criteria. Results: The fraction of points that passed the gamma test was on average 98.1 and 98.6, for the EPID versus film and EPID versus MapCheck comparisons, respectively. In the case of comparison with film, the majority of observed discrepancies were associated with problems related to film sensitivity or processing. Conclusions: The very close agreement between EPID and both film and MapCheck data demonstrates that the modified EPID is suitable for direct dose to water measurement for pretreatment IMRT verification. These results suggest a reconfigured EPID could be an efficient and accurate dosimeter. Alternatively, optical switching methods could be developed to produce a dual-mode EPID with both dosimetry and imaging capabilities. © 2011 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.