We have investigated the radiosensitizing effect of doranidazole, a hypoxic cells radiosensitizer, using SCCVII tumor cells of C3H mice and CFPAC-1 and MIA PaCa-2 human pancreatic tumor cells. The radiosensitivity of hypoxic SCCVII cells in vitro increased with 1 mM doranidazole by a factor of 1.34 and 1.68, when determined by clonogenic survival and micronucleus (MN) formation, respectively. The radiation-induced growth delay of SCCVII tumors was significantly enhanced and the TCD50/120 was reduced by a factor of 1.33 when 200 mg/kg doranidazole was injected, i.v., 20 min prior to tumor irradiation. The in vivo-in vitro excision assay showed that radiosensitivity of SCCVII cells in vivo increased by a factor of 1.47 with 200 mg/kg doranidazole. The radiation-induced growth delay of CFPAC-1 xenografts in nude mice was significantly enhanced and the TCD50/90 was reduced by a factor of 1.30 by 200 mg/kg doranidazole. On the other hand, 200 mg/kg of doranidazole exerted no influence on the radiation-induced growth delay in MIA PaCa-2 xenografts. The tumor oxygenation status, as determined with an oxygen sensitive needle probe and the immunohistological study using pimonidazole, indicated that MIA PaCa-2 tumors are better oxygenated than CFPAC-1 tumors. The relatively well-oxygenated status in MIA PaCa-2 tumor may account for the lack of radiosensitization by doranidazole. It is concluded that the magnitude of radiosensitization of tumors by doranidazole is dependent on the oxygenation status of the tumors and that doranidazole may be useful in increasing the response of hypoxic human pancreatic tumor to IORT.