It is known that transfer of the wild-type p53 gene into p53-negative cells from transgenic mice increases their sensitivity to drug and radiation-induced apoptosis. However, unlike many human tumors, these transgenic cells do not express mutant p53, and it is not known from these earlier studies whether wild-type p53 dominates the effects of mutant p53 with respect to drug and radiation sensitivity. We addressed this question in glioblastoma, a disease characterized by an unusually high level of intrinsic resistance to therapy and poor prognosis: mean survival time from diagnosis is only about 1 yr. We introduced the gene for wild-type p53 into human T98G glioblastoma cells, which express endogenous mutant p53 but not wild-type p53. Stable transfectants that co-expressed mutant and wild-type p53 had enhanced sensitivity to cisplatin and gamma radiation, compared with parental cells, control vector-transduced cells, and transduced cells that had lost expression of wild-type p53. Transient wild-type p53 expression after high-efficiency gene transfer by a p53 adenovirus also sensitized the cells to cisplatin and correlated with the induction of apoptosis. The sensitization effect was also observed in p53 adenovirus-infected H23 small cell lung carcinoma cells, which express endogenous mutant p53. Therefore, wild-type p53 gene transfer has dominant effects over mutant p53 in sensitizing tumor cells to therapy, which supports the potential of p53 gene therapy to enhance the efficacy of traditional therapy.