We sought to reduce tumor hypoxia by topical application of a vasodilator, benzyl nicotinate (BN), and investigated its effect on the growth of tumors irradiated at times when tumor pO(2) increased. EPR oximetry was used to follow the changes in the tissue pO(2) of subcutaneous radiation-induced fibrosarcoma (RIF-1) tumors during topical applications of 1.25-8% BN formulations for 5 consecutive days. The RIF-1 tumors were hypoxic with a tissue pO(2) of 4.6-7.0 mmHg. A significant increase in tumor pO(2) occurred 10-30 min after BN application. The formulation with the minimal BN concentration that produced a significant increase in tumor pO(2) was used for the radiation study. The tumors were irradiated (4 Gy x 5) at the time of the maximum increase in pO(2) observed with the 2.5% BN formulation. The tumors with an increase in pO(2) of greater than 2 mmHg from the baseline after application of BN on day 1 had a significant growth inhibition compared to the tumors with an increase in pO(2) of less than 2 mmHg. The results indicate that the irradiation of tumors at the time of an increase in pO(2) after the topical application of the 2.5% BN formulation led to a significant growth inhibition. EPR oximetry provided dynamic information on the changes in tumor pO(2), which could be used to identify responders and non-responders and schedule therapy during the experiments.