Using Greene's melanoma transplanted into Syrian (golden) hamsters, we determined the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of thermal neutron capture therapy (TNCT) using 10B-paraboronophenylalanine (10B-BPA) in comparison with a 9-MeV electron beam. We also obtained the RBE of the 10B(n, alpha)7 Li reaction by calculation based on summed dose data from TNCT. Throughout this study, the Kyoto University Research Reactor was used as the source for thermal neutrons; the reactor was specially altered to attain a low contamination level both for gamma-rays and fast neutrons. 10B-BPA was administered 8 hours before thermal neutron irradiation to the hamsters with melanoma. The tumor was then irradiated at 5 MW for 90 minutes. The absorbed dose from this TNCT was calculated by the method of Fairchild and Goodman (Phys. Med. Biol. 1966; 2:15-30). The RBEs of the TNCT and the 10B(n, alpha)7 Li reaction obtained by the tumor growth delay time (TGDT) method were 2.22 and 2.51, respectively, at 10.5 days of TGDT. These RBE values varied with TGDT and the absorbed dose. The RBE value of TNCT had a peak at 7.0 days of TGDT; that of the 10B(n, alpha)7Li reaction was higher at a low absorbed dose level and lower at a high absorbed dose level.