Although postoperative adjuvant therapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) had not been reported to be effective, it has been reported recently that oral administration of tegafur (1-[2-tetrahydrofuryl]-5-fluorouracil, FT) may improve the postoperative prognosis. In the present paper, to examine whether p53 status affects the efficacy of FT as postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy for NSCLC, a total of 236 consecutive patients with completely resected pathologic stage I-IIIa NSCLC were retrospectively reviewed. p53 status was determined by immunohistochemical staining. For all patients, the 5-year survival rate of patients with FT administration (FT group) was 78.1%, being significantly higher than that (69.1%) of patients without FT administration (control group) (P=0.046). For patients without immunohistochemical evidence of p53 overexpression, the 5-year survival rate in the FT group was 87.1%, being significantly higher than that (74.0%) in the control group (P=0.036). This demonstrates an improvement of postoperative prognosis by FT administration. On the other hand, for patients with p53 overexpression, there was no significant difference in the postoperative prognosis between the FT group and the control group (5-year survival rate 63.2% and 60.1%, respectively; P=0.514), demonstrating that FT administration was not effective for these patients. In conclusion, p53 status may be useful for predicting the efficacy of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy using FT. A prospective randomized study stratified by p53 status is needed to clarify the effect of postoperative FT administration.