Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a potent endogenous activator of the cell death pathway and functions by activating the cell surface death receptors 4 and 5 (DR4 and DR5). TRAIL is nontoxic in vivo and preferentially kills neoplastically transformed cells over normal cells by an undefined mechanism. Radiotherapy is a common treatment for breast cancer as well as many other cancers. Here we demonstrate that ionizing radiation can sensitize breast carcinoma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. This synergistic effect is p53-dependent and may be the result of radiation-induced up-regulation of the TRAIL-receptor DR5. Importantly, TRAIL and ionizing radiation have a synergistic effect in the regression of established breast cancer xenografts. Changes in tumor cellularity and extracellular space were monitored in vivo by diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (diffusion MRI), a noninvasive technique to produce quantitative images of the apparent mobility of water within a tissue. Increased water mobility was observed in combined TRAIL- and radiation-treated tumors but not in tumors treated with TRAIL or radiation alone. Histological analysis confirmed the loss of cellularity and increased numbers of apoptotic cells in TRAIL- and radiation-treated tumors. Taken together, our results provide support for combining radiation with TRAIL to improve tumor eradication and suggest that efficacy of apoptosis-inducing cancer therapies may be monitored noninvasively, using diffusion MRI.