Irradiation is a standard therapy for gliomas and many other cancers. Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is one of the most promising candidates for cancer gene therapy. Here, we show that tumor irradiation enhances the tumor tropism of human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (UCB-MSCs) and the therapeutic effect of TRAIL delivered by UCB-MSCs. The sequential treatment with irradiation followed by TRAIL-secreting UCB-MSCs (MSC-TRAIL) synergistically enhanced apoptosis in either TRAIL-sensitive or TRAIL-resistant glioma cells by upregulating the death receptor 5 and by inducing caspase activation. Migration assays showed greater MSC migration toward irradiated glioma cells and the tumor site in glioma-bearing mice compared with unirradiated tumors. Irradiated glioma cells had increased expression of interleukin-8 (IL-8), which leads to the upregulation of the IL-8 receptor on MSCs. This upregulation, which is involved in the migratory capacity of UCB-MSCs, was confirmed by siRNA inhibition and an antibody-neutralizing assay. In vivo survival experiments in orthotopic xenografted mice showed that MSC-based TRAIL gene delivery to irradiated tumors had greater therapeutic efficacy than a single treatment. These results suggest that clinically relevant tumor irradiation increases the therapeutic efficacy of MSC-TRAIL by increasing tropism of MSCs and TRAIL-induced apoptosis, which may be a more useful strategy for cancer gene therapy.