PURPOSE: Capecitabine is an oral fluoropyrimidine carbamate and it is known as an effective radiosensitizer. Capecitabine and its metabolite reach their peak concentration in the plasma at 1~2 hours after a single oral administration of capecitabine and the levels fall rapidly thereafter. To verify the radiosensitizing effect of capecitabine that is based on such pharmacokinetic characteristics, we performed a retrospective analysis on the optimal timing of capecitabine administration with performing preoperative chemoradiation for locally advanced rectal cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Among 171 patients who were treated with preoperative radiotherapy and concurrent capecitabine administration for rectal cancer, 56 patients were administered capecitabine at 1~2 hours before radiotherapy (group A), and at other time in the other 115 patients (group B). Total mesorectal excision was done at 4 to 6 weeks after the completion of chemoradiation. The radiosensitizing effect of capecitabine was evaluated on the basis of the pathological response. RESULTS: Complete pathological regression of the primary tumor was observed in 12 patients (21.4%) for group A and in 11 patients (9.6%) for group B (p=0.031). Residual disease less than 0.5 cm (a good response) was observed in 19 patients (33.9%) for group A and in 23 patients (20.0%) for group B (p=0.038). On multivariate analysis, the capecitabine ingestion time showed marginal significance. CONCLUSION: When performing preoperative chemoradiation for locally advanced rectal cancer, the radiosensitizing effect of capecitabine was enhanced when it was administered 1 hour before radiotherapy.