Radiation resistant squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck cell line JSQ-3 carries a mutant form of tumor suppressor gene p53. Treatment of these cells with an adenoviral vector containing wild-type p53 (Av1p53) was able to inhibit their growth in vitro and in vivo while having no effect on normal cells. More significantly, introduction of wtp53 also reduced the radiation-resistance level of this cell line in vitro, in a viral dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, this radiosensitization also carried over to the in vivo situation where the response of JSQ-3 cell-induced mouse xenografts to radiotherapy was markedly enhanced after treatment with Av1p53. Complete, long-term regression of the tumors for up to 162 days was observed when a single dose of Av1p53 was administered in combination with ionizing radiation, demonstrating the effectiveness of this combination of gene therapy and conventional radiotherapy. This sensitization of tumors to radiation therapy by replacement of wtp53 could significantly decrease the rate of recurrence after radiation treatment. Since radiation is one of the most prevalent forms of adjunctive therapy for a variety of cancers, these results have great relevance in moving toward an improved cancer therapy.